Clarksville doctor charged with massive opioid distribution and healthcare fraud scheme

Posted at 2:53 PM, Dec 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-21 14:41:36-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A 45-count federal indictment was unsealed yesterday which charged a Clarksville physician with maintaining a drug-involved premises, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the bounds of professional medical practice, healthcare fraud, and money laundering.

Dr. Samson Orusa, 56, was arrested by federal agents on Thursday.

The indictment states that as early as January 2014, Orusa both opened and maintained a medical practice in Clarksville for the purpose of distributing Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone not for legitimate medical purposes. It goes on to say that these drugs were prescribed to patients without knowing their prior medical history or performing a credible physical exam or diagnostic workup.

The indictment goes on to allege a particular incident in February 2015 in which Orusa diagnosed a patient with Chronic Pain Syndrome without performing a specific examination. He then prescribed oxymorphone (an opioid), Soma (a muscle relaxer), and alprazolam (an anti-anxiety drug). This is often referred to as “The Holy Trinity,” and can be a potentially deadly drug cocktail. On February 24, 2015, this patient died as a result of ingesting a like combination of drugs.

The indictment also alleges that on April 17, 2018, a patient suffered a heroin overdose in the waiting room of Orusa’s medical office after Orusa prescribed oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances, without a proper examinations or knowing the patient’s medical history.

Between July 1, 2018, and August 21, 2018, the indictment alleges that Orusa wrote approximately 2,494 prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances.

Another allegation in the indictment detailed that on September 14, 2018, the State of Tennessee permanently revoked Orusa’s Pain Management Certificate. On that same day, Orusa wrote 164 individual prescriptions for approximately 12,754 Schedule II controlled substance pills.

Beginning in 2014, several pharmacies in Montgomery County, Tennessee refused to honor prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances written by Orusa.

The indictment goes on to list several other allegations including Orusa developing and participating in a scheme to defraud health insurance benefit providers; submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary; causing claims to be submitted to Medicare for prescriptions that were issued in violation of law or otherwise outside the bounds of accepted medical practice; and diverting proceeds of the fraud.

Furthermore, the allegations include as part of the scheme, that Orusa would accept or see 50-60 patients or more in a single day; require insurance patients, including Medicare beneficiaries, to visit his office approximately four to six times in a single month in order to increase and inflate reimbursement claims, while cash paying patients were only required to visit Orusa’s office twice per month; and required insurance patients, including Medicare beneficiaries, to accept injections, in order to increase and inflate reimbursement claims. Orusa threatened to withhold pain management prescriptions from insurance patients who refused the injections.

Finally, the indictment alleges that Orusa conducted financial transactions designed to disguise the nature of the unlawful activity and that he transferred or caused to be transferred, proceeds of the unlawful activity to foreign bank accounts; used clinic proceeds to make a $12,451.00 down payment on a 2017 Mercedez-Benz; and wrote a check for the purchase of $100,000 in securities.

“Physicians who prey upon an already addicted population; steal from public healthcare 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 Cochran. “Anyone who contributes to the opioid epidemic plaguing this nation should expect to be targeted by our law enforcement partners and held accountable.”

According to his Facebook profile, Orusa indicates that he studied medicine at the Columbia University College of Medicine and Surgery in New York and at the University of Benin in Benin City, Nigeria. Orusa has also been a pastor at God's Sanctuary Church International since 1999.

Currently, Dr. Orusa holds and active and valid license from the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners. His license is set to expire (or be renewed) in March 2020.

If convicted, Dr. Orusa could be facing up to 20 years in prison on each drug-related charge and up to 10 years in prison on each healthcare fraud and money laundering count.

Orusa's hearing is scheduled to begin on March 20, 2019.