San Jose – An Indian American doctor today (March 26) pleaded guilty to distributing hydrocodone outside the scope of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical need, and to health care fraud.
United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan, and the California Department of Justice Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA) announced the acceptance of the guilty plea by the South Bay doctor Venkat Aachi.
The guilty plea was accepted by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, US District Judge.
According to the plea agreement, 52 year old Aachi of Saratoga was a licensed physician in the state of California who operated a pain clinic in San Jose. He maintained a DEA registration number authorizing him to prescribe controlled substances. Aachi admitted that from September 18, 2017, through July 2, 2018, he wrote hydrocodone-acetaminophen prescriptions that were outside the scope of his professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The plea agreement described transactions in which Aachi improperly distributed hydrocodone. For example, in November of 2017, he wrote a prescription enabling a patient to receive 90 hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills. Aachi did not conduct a physical examination of the patient nor discuss the patient’s pain or response to prior medication.
Aachi acknowledged that he knew the prescriptions were not for a legitimate medical purpose and that he did not write the prescriptions in the usual course of his professional practice.
Further, Aachi admitted that on July 2, 2018, he falsely submitted to an insurance company a false and fraudulent claim for payment for healthcare benefits, items, and services. Aachi admitted he acted with the intent to defraud the insurance company.
On October 9, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Aachi and charged him with six counts of distributing drugs outside the scope of professional practice, in violation of health care rules. Aachi pleaded guilty to one count under each statute.
Aachi remains free on bail pending sentencing. Judge Davila scheduled Aachi’s sentencing hearing for July 1, 2019.
Aachi faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000 for the illegal distribution of hydrocodone count and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the health care fraud count. Additional fines, restitution, and additional periods of supervised release also could be ordered at sentencing.
Assistant US Attorney Shailika Kotiya is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Andy Ding. This prosecution is the result of investigations by the DEA, FBI, HHS-OIG, and the BMFEA.