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Feds: OBGYN who formerly practiced in Huntsville wrote fake prescriptions and filed false insurance claims

WAAY 31 learned Dr. Cimino doesn't practice in Huntsville anymore, but does work in Lincoln, Alabama.

Posted: Apr 18, 2019 5:11 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2019 6:35 PM

WAAY 31 is learning more about one of three doctors from Madison County caught up in a large opioid sting.

Doctor John Cimino doesn't face drug charges. Instead, the feds say the OBGYN conspired with a drug marketer to write fake prescriptions and file insurance claims.

Doctor John Cimino

They say the fraud happened at his doctor's office in downtown Huntsville, off Lowe Avenue, and at the marketer's home in Owens Cross Roads.

Federal investigators accuse both Doctor John Cimino and Katherine Barnett of defrauding TRICARE from 2014 until 2016. TRICARE is the Department of Defense Military Health System that pays for medical treatments and supplies.

A federal complaint filed this week explains in part, "Dr. Cimino instructed employees to specifically target TRICARE beneficiaries, because TRICARE reimbursed at a higher rate than other insurance companies."

According to the complaint, the scheme started after Barnett offered to pay the doctor and his employees for each compound medication prescription they wrote which was billed to TRICARE.

Compound drugs aren't approved by the FDA and are tailored specifically to the needs of an individual if they have an allergy. The prescription might sound costly, but Cimino instructed at least one employee to tell patients that the company would, "waive any copay so that there would be no cost to the patient for obtaining compound medications. This induced many patients to agree to medications."

The complaint states Barnett offered one of Cimino's former employees $50 per prescription. The two ended up making more than $300,000 off the scheme.

WAAY 31 uncovered more information about Cimino.

We found a civil lawsuit filed against Cimino by a former patient, who claims he over-prescribed her opioids and got her addicted. She also claims he ordered prescriptions to his office with her name and insurance attached.

The lawsuit said, "John P. Cimino, M.D., and Center for Women's Healthcare, fraudulently suppressed from their patient plaintiff that they were using her name to order shipments for drugs and substances to their office for the use of other patients."

The suit said the former patient was quote, "contacted by a governmental agency for investigation into this conduct."

It's unclear if the 2016 Civil Suit, which was ultimately dropped, is connected to this week's indictment.

The U.S. Department of Justice says if Cimino or Barnett are convicted, they each face up to 10 years in federal prison for each fraud charge.

WAAY 31 reached out to the attorney to find out why the 2016 civil suit was dropped, or if a settlement was paid. We're waiting to hear back.

We did learn Dr. Cimino doesn't practice in Huntsville anymore, but does work in Lincoln, Alabama. It will be up to the Alabama Medical Board if the doctor is able to keep his license.

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