DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area doctor was sentenced Monday to nearly 17 years in prison and ordered to pay $30 million for leading a scheme to bill Medicare and private insurers for unnecessary painkiller injections and write prescriptions for millions of opioids.
Frank Patino’s fraud lasted years and was one of the most egregious health care schemes in U.S. history, prosecutors said.
“Over the course of approximately five years, Patino steadily increased the potency of the opioids he prescribed, ultimately making him the top prescriber of 30 milligram oxycodone within the state of Michigan,” Justice Department attorney Steven Scott said in a court filing.
The result: Patino and other doctors got rich while patients became addicted or further addicted to opioids, Scott said.
U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood ordered $30 million in restitution to Medicare and other insurers.
Patino declared in court Monday that he’s innocent. His new attorney, Martin Crandall, is seeking a another trial, claiming Patino’s trial lawyer botched his defense.
Crandall said Patino has traveled the world to give medical care to the poor.
“It just doesn’t fit for him to be involved in philanthropy for all these years and to be committing these crimes,” Crandall said.