PITTSBURGH – United States Attorney Scott W. Brady today announced a new program that helps connect patients to care or treatment following the closing of a doctor’s office by federal law enforcement. The program was first used earlier this week following the closing of the Fayette County practice of Dr. Emilio Ramon Navarro, who was charged with drug dealing and health care fraud.
U.S. Attorney Brady said, “We know that while shuttering an office might mean the end of a doctor’s illegal behavior, it marks the beginning of an opioid-dependent patient’s quest for a new prescriber, and sometimes the street is a first choice. Partnering with Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services we have identified an effective way to help patients find legitimate medical care or access treatment for opioid addiction if that is what is needed.”
While agents were arresting Dr. Navarro and executing a search of his office, three Pennsylvania Department of Health employees and two drug and alcohol counselors – one each from Fayette and Washington Counties – were on scene to meet one-on-one with patients and provide them with information on accessing legitimate care. They distributed an informational flyer directing people where to seek care, and posted a copy on the door of the office. Through this effort, several dozen patients were directed to alternate facilities where they could obtain legitimate qualified care.
“The defendant was responsible for protecting the health and wellbeing of his patients, but instead he is charged with coercing them into sexual acts in exchange for medically unnecessary prescription medications that are fueling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “He exploited his position of power as a doctor, put his patients’ lives in danger, and defrauded Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Program, which provides health care to low-income Pennsylvanians. I’m proud to work with our state and federal partners to put an end to this dangerous behavior and connect his former patients to the treatment and care that they deserve.”
Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Mark V. Gurzo are prosecuting the Navarro case on behalf of the government.
The investigation leading to the indictment of Emilio Navarro was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit (OFADU). The Western Pennsylvania OFADU, led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, combines the expertise and resources of federal and state law enforcement to address the role played by unethical medical professionals in the opioid epidemic.
The agencies which comprise the Western Pennsylvania OFADU include: Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Bureau of Narcotic Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office – Criminal Division, Civil Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Office of Inspector General and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.