Cutting Off the Blood Supply

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Stethoscope on 100 dollar bills symbolizing financial surveillance

Medicaid is jointly funded by the Federal Government and the states, but each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines to provide health care coverage to those with lower incomes and resources. Sadly, the government healthcare program is often targeted by fraudsters who are looking to cheat the system and make money at the expense of honest taxpayers and victims.

Frank Purpera Jr. of Blacksburg, Va. was recently sentenced after pleading guilty to illegally distributing controlled substances, health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and obstruction of justice. Dr. Purpera is the former owner of the Virginia Vein Institute based in Roanoke, Va.

Dr. Purpera wrote prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances using the name of his wife, as she did not share his last name. (I wouldn’t want to be associated with this fraudster either.)  

Over five years, Dr. Purpera illegally wrote prescriptions for Percocet, which is used for moderate to severe pain, and Adderall, which is used to improve hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and attention span. The prescriptions were not intended for medical use and did not pertain to the area of medicine Dr. Purpera practiced. (So, he was basically contributing to our nation’s drug addiction problem so he could make more money for himself. If that isn’t the definition of selfish, I don’t know what is.)

Additionally, Dr. Purpera fraudulently billed Medicare, Virginia Medicaid, and private insurances for millions of dollars. (Why stop at defrauding one insurance company or government healthcare program when you could defraud them all?) He forged and falsified medical records so he could receive reimbursements he was not entitled to.

When Dr. Purpera’s medical practice was searched, he instructed all of his employees not to comply with the search warrant and to say “I don’t recall” if questioned by federal investigators. (Dr. Purpera reportedly showed his staff a “Wolf of Wall Street” clip and told them to emulate their uncooperative behavior by restating “I don’t recall” to every question.)  

Acting United States Attorney Bubar issued a statement condemning Dr. Purpera for defrauding Medicaid funding which is supposed to go to Virginians in need of assistance. He also criticized Dr. Purpera for violating his Hippocratic Oath to serve the community by adding to our nation’s dangerous drug epidemic. (He didn’t care about adding to people’s drug problems as long as he profited from the harm he inflicted.)  

Dr. Purpera was convicted of 56 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of healthcare fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.

He was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $2.3 million in restitution to Virginia Medicaid, Medicare, and Anthem insurance. (I bet the only thing Dr. Purpera is sorry for is the fact that he got caught. Perhaps while serving out his 90 months in prison, he’ll be able to recall what he has done and have remorse for his actions.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Blacksburg Doctor to Serve 90 Months in Prison on Health Care Fraud, Distribution of Controlled Substances, Obstruction of Justice Charges,” dated September 24, 2020.

ROANOKE, Va. – Frank Purpera Jr., the former owner of the Virginia Vein Institute, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to 90 months in federal prison after being convicted by a jury in January 2020 of illegally distributing controlled substances, health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and obstruction of justice. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement today.

Purpera, 45, of Blacksburg, Va., was convicted in January on 56 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

 

 

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.