A Kentucky doctor and his former office manager were sentenced to 60 and 32 months respectively in prison Wednesday for their roles in unlawfully distributing controlled substances during a time when the defendants did not have a legitimate medical practice.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. of the Eastern District of Kentucky, Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Field Office, Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Detroit Field Division, and Executive Director W. Bryan Hubbard of the Kentucky Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
Scotty Akers, M.D., 48, a licensed physician, and Serissa Akers, 33, his wife and former office manager, both of Pikeville, Kentucky, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier of the Eastern District of Kentucky. Judge Wier also ordered Scotty Akers to forfeit $12,275. Both defendants pleaded guilty on Aug. 7, 2020, to charges of unlawfully distributing controlled substances.
As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants admitted to using Facebook messenger and other messaging applications to sell prescriptions for opioids. According to their plea agreements, Serissa Akers exchanged prescriptions written by Scotty Akers for cash in parking lots around Pikeville. The defendants also admitted that Scotty Akers performed no physical examinations that would justify these parking-lot prescriptions, and failed to engage in other measures that prevent the abuse and diversion of opioids. The defendants continued operating their opioid-delivery scheme even after they came under investigation and up until the moment when Scotty Akers’s medical license was suspended.
HHS-OIG, DEA, and Kentucky MFCU investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dermot Lynch and Assistant Chief Kate Payerle of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Smith of the Eastern District of Kentucky are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force. Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force, which operates in 10 districts, has charged more than 70 defendants who are collectively responsible for distributing more than 50 million pills. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for approximately $19 billion. In addition, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-Office of Inspector General, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should visit the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness website for more information.
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