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WEIGHT LOSS PHYSICIAN ENTERS GUILTY PLEA TO DRUG AND TAX CHARGES

by Robert Kerr

People charged with drug crimes and tax evasion face serious consequences, including the threat of imprisonment and large fines. Physicians are not excluded from charges relating to the distribution of prescription drugs and may face additional consequences, such as losing their rights to practice medicine. Calculated plea bargains may be used as part of the defense, as demonstrated by weight loss clinic physicians this month.

Three people associated with a chain of weight loss clinics in the Chicago area were recently charged, two with drug crimes and one with tax evasion, after some patients received prescriptions without physicals and thorough exams. One of the doctors and his wife pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges. These charges cover a time period that spans eight years. One of the owners allegedly paid the third party, who earlier pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities, according to how many pills he dispensed and the number of patients seen.

Undercover investigators, who were not considered obese, claimed to have obtained pills without undergoing medical exams as part of the investigation. More than 4 million pills were allegedly involved in the charges levied against the three.

Sentencing and plea agreements related to all the charges have not been finalized at this time, although tax evasion guilty pleas by the couple who owned the weight loss clinic were accepted by the judge. Part of the couple’s plea agreement included a payment of more than $5 million. The defense used plea bargaining as part of settling the tax evasion but are waiting for a final verdict on drug charges.

Source: NWITimes.com, “Merrillville doctor pleads guilty to tax evasion, drug charges,” Times Staff, Jan. 08, 2013

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