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Dr. Devendra Patel Arrested on Opioid and Fraud Charges

Dr. Devendrakumar Ishwarbhai Patel of Elko, Nevada cardiologist is arrested on 39-charges of unlawful distribution of prescription opioids and Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Dr. Patel, 58, is charged with 36-counts of distribution of controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and three counts of health care fraud. Patel is a cardiologist at his medical practice Northeastern Nevada Cardiology. The statutory maximum penalty for distribution of a controlled substance is 10 years in prison and the maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in federal court on Wednesday in Reno.

According to the 39-count indictment that was unsealed, it is alleged that, from May 2014 to September 2017, Patel routinely prescribed fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone for his patients without a legitimate medical purpose and that he fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for medical tests that he did not perform. The indictment alleges that Patel performed EKGs on his patients, so he could then order nuclear stress tests which he did not administer. He allegedly used a poorly calibrated machine and presented his patients with fraudulent X-Rays, in order to deceive his patients into thinking they had coronary issues that needed to be treated by him.

“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “This summer, I ordered the creation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which brings together data analysts and Assistant United States Attorneys from throughout the country to prosecute doctors engaged in opioid-related health care fraud.”

“Dr. Patel is the first person to be charged in Nevada since the formation of the Justice Department’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Myhre.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to turning the tide of the prescription opioid epidemic that is plaguing our communities. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who contribute to this scourge.”

“Despite his physician’s oath to do no harm, Dr. Patel recklessly prescribed opioids, for no legitimate medical purpose,” stated FBI’s Las Vegas Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse. “The FBI is confident that today’s arrest will send a message to other physicians that are prescribing opioids outside the scope of legitimate medical care.  We are committed to using every tool in our arsenal to battle the opioid crisis in the state of Nevada.”

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Secret Service, Elko Combined Narcotics Unit, Nevada Department of Public Safety, and the Elko County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kilby Macfadden and Sue Fahami are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In October Dr. Patel filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital.  In his lawsuit, Dr. Patel claim that since the start of his employment with the Hospital, he has faced significant racial discrimination from the Hospital’s CEOs, Chief of Staff, management and other staff members.  It is alleged, that from the beginning, the Hospital made it clear to Dr. Patel that he was viewed as an outsider given his foreign education and training in India and, thus, treated Dr. Patel as an inferio doctor compared to the American trained and Caucasian doctors.

Dr. Patel is a graduate of M.S. University Medical College, Baroda, India and completed his residency at the Catholic Medical Center, Jamaica, New York.  Dr. Patel completed his fellowship at the St. Luke’s Rosevelt Hospital, New York.

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