Insurance Fraud NEWS
Former Ellwood City hospital doctor charged with prescription fraud
February 11, 2019, Ellwood City, PA
A former Ellwood City Hospital doctor is facing charges in Butler County Court that he committed prescription fraud.
Sung Hong, 77, who is from the Gibsonia area, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Feb. 1 and is awaiting a formal arraignment March 26 at the Butler County Courthouse on two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge of obtaining a controlled substance through misrepresentation.
The radiologist, who retired from Ellwood City’s hospital in March 2015, is accused of conspiring with a former colleague from his time at the Grove City Medical Center, 58-year-old William Hribal of Slippery Rock, to pick up prescriptions at various times in 2016 and 2017 that Hong had forged, the state attorney general’s office reported.
According to court documents, the investigation began in August 2017 when Ellwood City Hospital officials notified the state about fake prescriptions they had discovered that had been written for attention-deficit drug Ritalin and Zolpidem, a sleeping aid. The prescriptions, with Hong listed as the doctor, had been taken to a Cranberry Township pharmacy, which refused to fill them because a large quantity was requested.
When confronted, Hribal, who officials discovered had acquired hundreds of pills on similar prescriptions over several months in Butler County, admitted he had been approached in 2016 by Hong about the scheme, court documents said. He said Hong would drive him to various pharmacies and give him cash and discount cards to go inside and pretend to be Hong’s patient seeking medication, but the pills were going to Hong.
Agents from the attorney general’s office then spoke with Hong, who told them he was using the drugs because “as he got older he found it harder to concentrate at work.” He was using the Ritalin to stay active and then the Zolpidem to bring himself down, authorities said. According to an online biography, Hong is a founding member of Brighton Radiology in Brighton Township, but he is not now listed as one of its physicians on its website.
State agents said Hong told them he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he could not write prescriptions for himself and was embarassed to ask another doctor for help. Hong remains free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
Hribal, meanwhile, has been charged with acquiring controlled substances through prescription fraud, attempted prescription fraud and conspiracy to commit prescription fraud and tentatively faces a preliminary hearing later this month. He is free on a promise to return for future court proceedings.
Source: Elwood City Ledger