Two Doctors Plead Guilty to Unlawful Distribution of Painkillers and Health Care Fraud

DETROIT, MI – Two physicians who practiced in Warren, Michigan, pleaded guilty today to writing prescriptions for oxycodone without medical justification, and one also pleaded guilty to health care fraud on February 11th, 2015.DEA

During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, Hussein “Sam” Awada, 45-years-old, of Royal Oak, admitted that from late 2010, through early 2012, he conspired with James Lyons, a patient “marketer,” to write prescriptions for oxycodone and Roxicodone in the names of people who were brought to him by Lyons, for no medical purpose.

Lyons has admitted that he paid Awada for those prescriptions, then bought the pills from the “patients” and re-sold them to street dealers.

Awada also admitted that during this same time he billed Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield for numerous medical procedures that were not medically justified. Awada’s plea agreement acknowledged that he prescribed more than 80,000 oxycodone and Roxicodone as part of his conspiracy with Lyons, and defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross of about $2.3 million. Lyons was recently sentenced to 48 months in custody for his part in this scheme.

Luis Collazo, 55-years-old, of Farmington Hills, admitted that in late 2012 he provided prescriptions to patients for controlled substance medications such as oxycodone although he knew that the patients had no medical need for the medications.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said, “More people die from overdoses of prescription drugs in America than from overdoses of all other drugs combined. We hope that prosecuting the doctors who are putting these drugs on the streets will deter others from contributing to this epidemic.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph P. Reagan stated, “The DEA has made it a priority to address the dangerous practice of illegally diverting prescription medications. Prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and Roxicodone, are controlled substances for a very good reason. If they are abused, they can lead to addiction, illness, or even death. As physicians, Mr. Awada and Mr. Collazo violated the public trust by illegally diverting prescription drugs on to the streets. These guilty pleas make it clear that the DEA, and our partners in law enforcement, will continue to utilize our investigative techniques to bring to justice those individuals that are responsible for the illegal distribution of prescription medicines.”

“Not only did these physicians practice medicine, they practiced drug dealing and fraud. They put the public’s health and safety at risk and stole vital taxpayer dollars”, said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to root out individuals who choose to abandon their professional obligations and commit criminal acts that jeopardize the public’s well-being and essential health care programs”.

Based on his guilty pleas Hussein Awada is facing a maximum of thirty years in prison and a fine of up to $1,250,000.  Luis Collazo is facing a maximum of twenty years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Both will also lose their privilege to write controlled substance prescriptions.

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