Physicians facing prison, fines, for cases involving fraud, prescription drugs, feds say

Doctors involved in medical investigations announced by HHS-OIG.

gavel-and-medicine © Africa Studio -

© Africa Studio -

A family physician was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for a $12 million bogus prescription scheme that defrauded the national health insurance system for veterans.

Meanwhile, another doctor was sentenced to prison for unrelated offenses involving opioids, and in a third case, a physician pleaded guilty to improper billing for services never performed.

The cases were announced this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Arkansas fraud

Joe David May, MD, also known as Jay May, 42, was sentenced to 102 months in prison for 22 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, violating the Anti-Kick Statute, lying to the FBI, falsifying records, and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas. May’s profile described him as a family physician with an office in Conway, Arkansas, and affiliated with four hospitals.

In a jury trial, evidence “showed May stood at the center of a bogus prescription-drug assembly line and, later, went to great lengths in a failed bid to cover it up,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. May took cash and “rubber stamped” 226 unnecessary prescriptions for compounded drugs for military personnel and veterans using the Tricare insurance system, which paid more than $4.63 million for the drugs.

“All but one of his prescriptions were for ‘patients’ May did not know, never treated, and knew nothing about,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. May had nine co-conspirators who pled guilty to conspiracy and faced months of prison and monetary forfeitures. Investigators recovered almost $8 million in the cases.

Prescription drugs

Thomas Keller, MD, 75, a pain management doctor of Santa Rosa, California, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for prescribing oxycodone and other opioids that led to the death of a 17-year-old patient, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

The drugs were prescribed in large doses and for no legitimate medical need, and the patient was struggling with mental health issues. Keller give the patient drugs starting in 2016 and the patient died of an overdose in 2017.

Keller was convicted in a jury trial, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Procedures never done

Howard Jackson, MD, 69, a podiatrist, pleaded guilty to committing health care fraud from 2016 to 2020, for billing Medicare and Medicaid for procedures he did not perform, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois. Jackson practiced in East St. Louis, Illinois, and billed Medicare and Medicaid for at least $144,694 for nail surgeries he did not perform. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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