6 doctors charged in alleged scheme to prey on addicts

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DETROIT (AP/WOOD) — Prosecutors say six doctors, including two from West Michigan, have been charged in a scheme that involved millions of opioid drugs and unnecessary medical procedures in southeastern Michigan.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says it’s “particularly egregious” for doctors to prey on addicts.

An indictment unsealed Thursday says the doctors prescribed opioids to induce people to visit. The indictment says patients were forced to undergo other treatments. Nearly $500 million was billed to insurers, mostly Medicare and Medicaid.

The alleged ringleader was Dr. Rajendra Bothra, who operated pain clinics in Warren and Eastpointe. He’s charged with conspiracy, fraud and other crimes. He was returned to jail to await a detention hearing Friday. His attorney declined to comment.

The two doctors from West Michigan are both from Kent County. Those doctors include Dr. Ronald Kufner and Dr. Christopher Russo, who were were both providers with Medicare for The Pain Center and Interventional Pain Center, and were licensed to prescribe controlled substances and prescriptions at The Pain Center by the DEA, court documents show.

The Detroit News reports that Bothra in 1999 was honored in India for humanitarian efforts.

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