Fuhai Li, MD, 51, a neurologist in Milford, PA, was indicted July 20, 2016 on 24 charges of unlawfully distributing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose, money laundering and tax evasion. He was taken into custody that same day.
Now let’s look at these charges and get an idea of the farcical reasons behind them.
First, 15 counts were for alleged unlawful distribution of controlled substance from 2011 to 2015. The indictment alleges that Dr. Li provided prescriptions for excessive quantities of oxycodone and other narcotics to individuals he knew were not seeking the drugs for a legitimate medical purpose. One charge caused the death of a patient and one involved distribution to a pregnant woman.
In order to confiscate the doctor’s assets, the indictment included a charge of opening and maintaining premises for the purpose of distributing controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose. If found guilty of that, the government can then forfeit his office buildings.
In the process of indictment, the fact that Dr. Li accepted cash as payment for his services was used negatively. Also, that he had patients come to him from outside Pennsylvania. Neither of these statements would reflect negatively on any other businessman, so why are they using them to indict a physician?
The indictment continued with “Despite being notified by multiple area pharmacies that they would no longer fill prescriptions written by him, Li continued to prescribe excessive amounts of controlled substances. The alarms and “red flags” noticed and responded to by multiple local pharmacies were ignored by Li.”
Now I’m sure that, with the current climate of opiaphobia, that Dr. Li reviewed any information given to him by the pharmacists. But my guess is that these pharmacies weren’t working based on knowledge of the patient, but because of restrictions by their corporation. Having only one patient death proves to me that Dr. Li’s prescribing practices were not excessive. But again, no defense is allowed in the Grand Jury. So the prosecution can say whatever they want to make the doctor look bad.
According to the indictment, the activities that were allegedly not in the usual course of medical practice included:
- inadequate verification of the patient’s medical complaint;
- cursory or no medical examinations;
- inadequate patient medical history and no follow-up verification;
- failing to consider other treatment options;
- lack of, or inadequate, diagnostic testing;
- increasing the patients’ dosages over time unnecessarily;
- prescribing inappropriate combinations of drugs to patients.
These have become the standard complaints against doctors with the charge of being “outside the course of usual medical practice”. And yet pain management clinics that do steroid injections that could have a lot more negative impact on patients spend maybe 5 minutes with the patient and also don’t do the above. The key here is that controlled substances give the government the window of attack using the Controlled Substance Act illegally through a broad interpretation which the Justice Department has supported through the chain of courts.
The US Attorneys are really getting brazen in their charges. The indictment actually says that Li did examinations, but they covered all bases saying they were “either not done, were unnecessary or were inconsistent with the nature of the diagnosis subsequently offered.” He also did order tests, but the government covered their charges by saying they led to no change in therapy and “merely created the appearance pf legitimacy.”
So in other words, doctors can expect to be charged with practicing outside standard practice whether they examine the patient or not. As for tests, generally when you take over the care of a chronic pain patient, tests are ordered purely to legitimize the therapy. That is appropriate medical care.
Dr. Li is also charged with three counts of tax evasion for the years 2011 through 2013 based on finding cash in his home during the execution of federal search warrants in January 2015. According to the indictment Li kept two sets of books for his medical practice. Li is also charged with money laundering in connection with a $385,572 wire transfer mortgage payment on a residence and a $158,699 certified check for the purchase of a property.
People, open your eyes. Right here is the crux of the attack. The whole reason doctors are being attacked today is just this—MONEY!!! You see, if found guilty, Li is subject to forfeiture to the United States government, of any and all proceeds derived from unlawful activity including money and properties.
The usual propaganda hype was spread to the media by Akeia Conner, Internal Revenue Service, Special Agent in Charge, who was reported to say “When a physician knowingly abandons his oath and distributes controlled substances for financial gain instead of legitimate medical purpose, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation will provide the financial expertise in tracking and accounting for the proceeds of this unlawful activity.”
Special agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division Gary Tuggle jumps on the sensationalism by saying “physicians have an ethical obligation to uphold standards of medical practice,” Then he goes on to rouse people’s prejudice by saying “In 2015, 3,383 people died across Pennsylvania from drug overdoses; 53 percent of those overdose deaths were the result of opioids such as oxycodone. The DEA will remain vigilant in pursuing investigations against physicians that violate their positions of trust in our communities.”
Every government agency wants a piece of the credit and the pie. But the real people who are violating their positions of trust are the US Attorneys, DEA agents and other government officials involved in this illegal attack on doctors all over the country.
Dr. Li is facing a maximum penalty for distribution charges of life imprisonment, for the money laundering charges of 20 years per count. And for tax evasion, 5 years per count.