Consumer Fraud

Tennessee Doctor Arrested for Opioid Fraud, False Claims

A Tennessee doctor faces 45 criminal charges related to opioid distribution, health care fraud, and money laundering, according to federal prosecutors.

Dr. Samson Orusa, 56, of Clarksville, could be sentenced to up to 30 years if convicted of the federal charges. He was arrested Dec. 13 and indicted on 22 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the bounds of professional medical practice, 13 counts of health care fraud, and nine counts of money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee announced.

The government alleges that Dr. Orusa opened his pain clinic in 2014 “for the purpose of distributing Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone, not for legitimate medical purposes.”

The government also says that Dr. Orusa, who is also the pastor of God’s Sanctuary Church International in Clarksville, prescribed opioid painkillers to his patients without obtaining the patient’s prior medical history, performing a physical examination, or performing a diagnostic workup.

The indictment further accuses Dr. Orusa of devising and participating in a scheme to defraud Medicare and other government health insurance providers by inflating his reimbursement claims to Medicare, billing Medicare for services that patients didn’t need, and causing others to bill the government for illegally prescribed opioids.

Between July 1, 2018, and Aug. 21, 2018, Dr. Orusa wrote approximately 2,494 prescriptions for opioids and other Schedule II controlled substances, the U.S. alleges. These unlawful prescriptions resulted in the deaths of at least two patients – one from a deadly combination of drugs Dr. Orusa prescribed and the other from overdose.

The doctor also made financial transactions designed to hide the money he made from unlawful prescribed opioids. He then deposited that money in foreign bank accounts, federal prosecutors say.

“Physicians who prey upon an already addicted population; steal from public health care programs; and engage in such reckless disregard for patient safety, as alleged here, will face a vigorous prosecution by this office,” said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran. “Anyone who contributes to the opioid epidemic plaguing this nation should expect to be targeted by our law enforcement partners and held accountable.”

Dr. Orusa’s indictment isn’t the first time he has been in trouble with the law. In 2004, federal agents raided Dr. Orusa’s office and seized boxes of medical records. A federal grand jury later indicted him on health care fraud and money laundering charges, according to the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.

The government froze his personal, business, and charge accounts, for some time while it investigated, forcing him to file bankruptcy. He subsequently lost his home and business office.

In 2008, the court granted Dr. Orusa a diversion in place of arrest. Under the diversion agreement, all the charges were dismissed as long as Orusa didn’t engage in any of the alleged unlawful activity for a set period of time, the Leaf-Chronicle reported.