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Doctor, wife get 20 years in prison in Madison, Decatur opioid clinic scheme

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A Tennessee doctor and his wife have been sentenced to 20 years each in prison for illegally distributing opioids from clinics in Decatur and Madison.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Mark Murphy, 66, and Jennifer Murphy, 66, both of Lewisburg, Tennessee, for conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiring to defraud the United States and receiving kickbacks.

“Dr. Murphy and his wife preyed on countless vulnerable patients and stole tens of millions of dollars from Medicare and other taxpayer-funded health insurance programs,” said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona in a news release. “Our office will continue to prosecute drug dealers and health care fraudsters to the full extent of the law.”

They were sentenced on Monday.

More from the release:

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Mark Murphy and Jennifer Murphy owned and operated North Alabama Pain Services (NAPS), which closed its Decatur and Madison offices in early 2017. Mark Murphy was the sole doctor at the two locations, and the evidence at trial showed that some patients went months or years without seeing him during their monthly office visits, even though they continued to get opioid prescriptions that he had pre-signed.

Over the approximately five-year period leading up to the clinic closing its Alabama locations, the evidence at sentencing showed, Murphy wrote prescriptions for more than ten million opioid pills, including millions of oxycodone 30 mg tablets. During the same five-year period, Murphy and his wife Jennifer, who helped run the clinics, ordered tens of millions of dollars of unnecessary items and services that were paid by taxpayer-funded and private insurance programs. The Murphys received kickbacks for those orders and prescriptions. In all, Medicare, TRICARE, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama were billed more than $280 million as a result of the fraud and kickback schemes, and paid more than $50 million.

Mark Murphy and Jennifer Murphy were each ordered to pay more than $50 million in restitution. Jennifer Murphy was also convicted of tax-related charges for underreporting clinic income.

Also Monday, co-conspirator Christie Rollins, 52, of Petersburg, Tennessee, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for her role in selling medically unnecessary durable medical equipment and expensive topical creams at NAPS. Rollins agreed to pay restitution of more than $564,000.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama; Special Agent in Charge Bradford L. Byerly of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Orleans Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples of the FBI Birmingham Division; Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Atlanta Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Tamela E. Miles of the Department of Health and Human Service Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Region made the announcement.

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