GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A doctor and former state lawmaker could spend time in a federal prison after admitting billing an insurance company for pain medication he knew it did not cover.
Dr. Paul DeWeese was in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids Thursday to plead guilty to making false statements related to health care matters. The federal offense carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
DeWeese ran pain clinics known as NBO Medical in Grand Rapids, Flint and elsewhere. In court Thursday, he admitted that he had his office bill Blue Cross Blue Shield for pain injections that he knew were not covered. The billing fraud led DeWeese to collect $172,991.56 from BCBS.
“I, in short, knowingly violated the Blue Cross Blue Shield procedures,” DeWeese said in court. “I knew it was wrong.”
Under the terms of a plea agreement, DeWeese will not be allowed to participate in any federal health care program for five years.
BCBS isn’t the only insurer DeWeese is accused of defrauding. A recently unsealed federal court complaint from 2012 alleges DeWeese also defrauded Medicare and Medicaid at his clinics. The complaint was filed by two former Grand Rapids workers who blew the whistle on the practice after being fired. After nearly a year and a half of investigation, DeWeese and the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a settlement agreement in March. That agreement lays out allegations of fraudulent billing and prescribing drugs to patients DeWeese knew, or should have known, should not have been given more drugs.
Last year, Target 8 showed you the problems surrounding DeWeese and the prescriptions he was writing. Federal investigators say he would write prescriptions for powerful narcotics to junkies and people who would then sell the prescriptions on the street. Law enforcement in one Upper Peninsula community told Target 8 DeWeese flooded their streets with drugs.
Under the March settlement agreement, DeWeese did not admit to those violations but agreed to pay the government $288,496.67, which his attorney said he has already done. DeWeese also surrendered his DEA registration for five years. If he is granted a registration after that ban, there would be limits to what drugs he would be allowed to prescribe.
As part of the plea in the criminal case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed not to charge DeWeese with additional counts related to this case or the March settlement agreement.
DeWeese’s medical license has been suspended by the State of Michigan as the investigations against him have unfolded. His attorney told Judge Robert Jonker the license will be surrendered shortly.
DeWeese was allowed to leave court on bond Thursday.**Aug. 15 update: DeWeese was initially scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 15; however, that was rescheduled for Oct. 12.