Description: Grand Rapids, MI - Adam B. Townshend and Raymond E. Beckering III.
Mark Edward Brewster, M.D., of Traverse City, Michigan, was sentenced to 10 months’ incarceration following his guilty plea to writing fraudulent prescriptions to obtain controlled substances. Brewster will also pay restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which paid for a number of Brewster’s fraudulent prescriptions. Brewster further surrendered his DEA registration to federal authorities as part of this investigation.
A federal investigation revealed that between 2006 and 2015, Brewster wrote over 150 fraudulent prescriptions in the names of seven different people in order to obtain quantities of Ritalin, a Schedule II controlled substance, that ultimately exceeded five times the maximumFDA-approved adult dosage. Brewster started issuing fraudulent prescriptions before he graduated from medical school, wrote fraudulent prescriptions while he was on state court probation for a domestic violence conviction, and continued writing fraudulent prescriptions after being fired by a northern Michigan hospital for his prescribing practices. When Brewster’s prescriptions to his girlfriend became the subject of a state licensing investigation in 2015, he assured state investigators that, going forward, there was "zero chance" he would write prescriptions for anyone other than his patients. Brewster continued writing fraudulent prescriptions the very next day and concealed those prescriptions by writing them in the names of his girlfriend’s minor children and others who were unknown to licensing investigators.
During his nearly decade-long prescription fraud, Brewster boasted, in text messages, that he was "[s]ticking it to the man" by having some of his fraudulent prescriptions paid for by other people’s private insurance. Brewster also falsified progress notes in a patient’s medical record to cover other fraudulent prescriptions.When he became aware of the federal investigation, Brewster instructed people not tell the DEA anything about his fraudulent prescriptions.
At sentencing, Judge Maloney described Brewster’s crime as "a product of the doctor’s arrogance" and noted that Brewster caused a number of otherwise law-abiding people to become involved in felonious conduct. The sentence, Judge Maloney said, should deter other health care professionals who might consider illegally abusing their prescribing authorities to obtain drugs for themselves or others.
In connection with this investigation, Brewster’s girlfriend, Nicole Aiello, R.N., also pled guilty to aiding and abetting Brewster in illegally obtaining controlled substances. Aiello will be sentenced on January 5, 2018. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has further recovered $46,200.00 in civil penalties from other individuals who filled fraudulent prescriptions and returned controlled substances to Brewster.
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office will aggressively use all available criminal, civil, and administrative remedies when health care professionals abuse their licenses to illegally prescribe controlled substances for themselves or others," Acting U.S. Attorney Birge said. "The national epidemic of prescription drug abuse warrants the serious attention that we give this conduct."
This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Count: 1 Citation: 21:843A=CP.F Offense Level: 4
21:843(a)(3) UNLAWFUL ACTS - CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE - POSSESS; acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge
§843. Prohibited acts C
(a) Unlawful acts
It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally—
(1) who is a registrant to distribute a controlled substance classified in schedule I or II, in the course of his legitimate business, except pursuant to an order or an order form as required by section 828 of this title;
(2) to use in the course of the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, or to use for the purpose of acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance, a registration number which is fictitious, revoked, suspended, expired, or issued to another person;
(3) to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge;
(4)(A) to furnish false or fraudulent material information in, or omit any material information from, any application, report, record, or other document required to be made, kept, or filed under this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter, or (B) to present false or fraudulent identification where the person is receiving or purchasing a listed chemical and the person is required to present identification under section 830(a) of this title;
(5) to make, distribute, or possess any punch, die, plate, stone, or other thing designed to print, imprint, or reproduce the trademark, trade name, or other identifying mark, imprint, or device of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any drug or container or labeling thereof so as to render such drug a counterfeit substance;
(6) to possess any three-neck round-bottom flask, tableting machine, encapsulating machine, or gelatin capsule, or any equipment, chemical, product, or material which may be used to manufacture a controlled substance or listed chemical, knowing, intending, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter;
(7) to manufacture, distribute, export, or import any three-neck round-bottom flask, tableting machine, encapsulating machine, or gelatin capsule, or any equipment, chemical, product, or material which may be used to manufacture a controlled substance or listed chemical, knowing, intending, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter or, in the case of an exportation, in violation of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter or of the laws of the country to which it is exported;
(8) to create a chemical mixture for the purpose of evading a requirement of section 830 of this title or to receive a chemical mixture created for that purpose; or
(9) to distribute, import, or export a list I chemical without the registration required by this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter.
(b) Communication facility
It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to use any communication facility in committing or in causing or facilitating the commission of any act or acts constituting a felony under any provision of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter. Each separate use of a communication facility shall be a separate offense under this subsection. For purposes of this subsection, the term “communication facility” means any and all public and private instrumentalities used or useful in the transmission of writing, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds of all kinds and includes mail, telephone, wire, radio, and all other means of communication.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publications, any written advertisement knowing that it has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a Schedule 1 I controlled substance. As used in this section the term “advertisement” includes, in addition to its ordinary meaning, such advertisements as those for a catalog of Schedule 1 I controlled substances and any similar written advertisement that has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a Schedule 1 I controlled substance. The term “advertisement” does not include material which merely advocates the use of a similar material, which advocates a position or practice, and does not attempt to propose or facilitate an actual transaction in a Schedule 1 I controlled substance.
(2)(A) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally use the Internet, or cause the Internet to be used, to advertise the sale of, or to offer to sell, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance where such sale, distribution, or dispensing is not authorized by this subchapter or by the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act [21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.].
(B) Examples of activities that violate subparagraph (A) include, but are not limited to, knowingly or intentionally causing the placement on the Internet of an advertisement that refers to or directs prospective buyers to Internet sellers of controlled substances who are not registered with a modification under section 823(f) of this title.
(C) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to material that either—
(i) merely advertises the distribution of controlled substances by nonpractitioners to the extent authorized by their registration under this subchapter; or
(ii) merely advocates the use of a controlled substance or includes pricing information without attempting to facilitate an actual transaction involving a controlled substance.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who violates this section shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 4 years, a fine under title 18, or both; except that if any person commits such a violation after one or more prior convictions of him for violation of this section, or for a felony under any other provision of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter or other law of the United States relating to narcotic drugs, marihuana, or depressant or stimulant substances, have become final, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 8 years, a fine under title 18, or both.
(2) Any person who, with the intent to manufacture or to facilitate the manufacture of methamphetamine, violates paragraph (6) or (7) of subsection (a) of this section, shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine under title 18, or both; except that if any person commits such a violation after one or more prior convictions of that person—
(A) for a violation of paragraph (6) or (7) of subsection (a) of this section;
(B) for a felony under any other provision of this subchapter or subchapter II of this chapter; or
(C) under any other law of the United States or any State relating to controlled substances or listed chemicals,
has become final, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years, a fine under title 18, or both.
(e) Additional penalties
In addition to any other applicable penalty, any person convicted of a felony violation of this section relating to the receipt, distribution, manufacture, exportation, or importation of a listed chemical may be enjoined from engaging in any transaction involving a listed chemical for not more than ten years.
(1) In addition to any penalty provided in this section, the Attorney General is authorized to commence a civil action for appropriate declaratory or injunctive relief relating to violations of this section, section 842 of this title, or 856 2 of this title.
(2) Any action under this subsection may be brought in the district court of the United States for the district in which the defendant is located or resides or is doing business.
(3) Any order or judgment issued by the court pursuant to this subsection shall be tailored to restrain violations of this section or section 842 of this title.
(4) The court shall proceed as soon as practicable to the hearing and determination of such an action. An action under this subsection is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure except that, if an indictment has been returned against the respondent, discovery is governed by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 10 months' in prison.