(UNDATED) – Recent criminal convictions of health care professionals on drug diversion charges demonstrate the continued success of partnerships between Attorney General Curtis Hill’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and local prosecutors.
The MFCU regularly investigates reports of potential narcotic drug diversion by health care workers. It works to bring to justice those who take advantage of their access to controlled substances by stealing narcotic drugs intended for patients living in nursing homes and other board-and-care facilities. When MFCU investigators identify criminal activity, they present that information to local prosecutors. Increasingly, these prosecutors have been utilizing a provision of Indiana law that allows them to refer cases back to the MFCU to handle the criminal prosecution as well.
“My commitment to the fight against narcotic drug diversion has been enhanced by the partnership we’ve established with the Attorney General’s MFCU,” said Shelby County Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen. “The fact that the same unit that is already familiar with the evidence and the witnesses is able to provide attorney manpower and other resources to seamlessly proceed with the criminal case is a win-win for our community. It increases efficiency and frees up my staff to work on other cases.”
Landwerlen has referred four cases back to the MFCU over the last few years, each resulting in a criminal conviction. Most recently, on Feb. 6, Carolann Oliphant, a former employee of Major Hospital in Shelbyville, pleaded guilty in Shelby County Circuit Court to three felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, deceit or subterfuge. She will serve a 3-year sentence that includes payment of restitution of $3,170.98 to the hospital and community service work. Her cooperation with the investigation earned her the opportunity to have her felonies reduced to misdemeanors if she completes her terms without violations.
The MFCU also obtained a conviction on Feb. 6 for Melissa Smith, a Qualified Medication Assistant (QMA) who worked at The Village of Avon nursing home in Hendricks County. That conviction followed a referral for prosecution by Hendricks County Prosecutor Loren Delp. Smith pleaded guilty to four felony counts of failing to make, keep or furnish a record, after an audit of her paperwork revealed that she took 266 pills that remained unaccounted for, including Norco, Hydromorphone and Oxycodone. Smith will serve a two-year sentence with terms including 120 hours of community service work and substance abuse treatment. Smith will also have a chance to have her felonies reduced to misdemeanors after a year, provided she complies with the terms of her agreement.
“I am proud of the efforts of our MFCU team to investigate and prosecute cases against health care providers who violate the community’s trust and the high standards of their profession,” said Attorney General Hill. “We are pleased to partner with other law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors in the fight to stop drug diversion and protect vulnerable citizens living in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and group homes throughout Indiana.”
If you want to report possible drug diversion by a health care worker, you may contact the Attorney General’s MFCU online or at 1-800-382-1039.
Attached are court documents relevant to the aforementioned cases.