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WV fed case involving doctors accused of prescribing Suboxone illegally

April 08, 2019, Weirton, WV — Two doctors are still set for a federal trial later this month on an allegation that they conspired to illegally distribute Suboxone over an eight-year period from a Weirton drug treatment center.

Dr. George P. Naum, 59, of Wheeling, and Dr. Felix Brizuela Jr., 62, of Harrison City, Pennsylvania, are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances outside the bounds of professional medical practice.

Naum also is facing 10 counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of controlled substances outside the bounds of professional medical practice.

In a trial from the same indictment, but on different allegations, Brizuela in January was convicted of distributing controlled substances 15 times from his practice in Morgantown. Jurors cleared Brizuela of six other counts of distribution of controlled substances outside the bounds of professional medical practice, and also acquitted him of 16 counts alleging he was compensated illegally in violation of the federal anti-kickback statute.

Also previously, Eric Drake, 49, of Weirton, pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, admitting he sold Suboxone in May 2016 in Hancock County. Drake was co-owner of the Weirton addiction treatment center, Advance Healthcare Inc., where the government alleges Brizuela and Naum conspired to circumvent the law for prescribing Suboxone. Drake is scheduled to be sentenced May 16 in Clarksburg.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Sarah Wagner and Robert H. McWilliams Jr. contend Naum and Brizuela would see patients once, then turn over prescribing duties to a registered nurse for subsequent visits.

Brizuela and Naum have pleaded innocent.

Naum is represented by attorneys Ronald Chapman II of Troy, Michigan, and Elgine McCardle of Wheeling, while Brizuela’s lawyer is Douglas Sughrue.

During a lengthy final pretrial conference Monday, Chapman raised the possibility that a report supposedly generated by the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine from a 2012 order could prove exculpatory for Naum.

Keeley told the sides she would hold a hearing on the matter, if necessary, on the eve of the trial that’s set to begin April 23 in Wheeling.

Keeley also made it clear to the attorneys — and especially Chapman, who’s never practiced before her previously — what she will expect once the opening gavel falls on the case.

The case was investigated by multiple agencies, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Bill Powell: The Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, WV Offices of the Insurance Commissioner Fraud Division, WV Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Office of Ohio Attorney General Health Care Fraud, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the Hancock-Brook-Weirton Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, the Greater Harrison County Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, West Virginia State Police, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the Weirton Police Department.

Source: WV News

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