HARRISBURG > A 59-year-old Chester County physician pleaded guilty Tuesday to healthcare fraud after he invented a scheme to defraud two healthcare benefit programs by composing hundreds of prescriptions such as Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl and other regulated substances.
Charles J. Gartland, of Cochranville, pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab to a single count of health care fraud and one count of obtaining possession of a controlled substance by way of deception.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Gartland perpetrated a scheme to defraud two healthcare benefit programs, WellSpan Health of York, and Medicare, by composing 221 prescriptions involving September 2014 and August 2017, including Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and other regulated substances. The prescriptions were issued by Gartland under the names of three of the family. Of the 221 prescriptions, 194 have been for 17,187 Hydrocodone-Ibuprofen 7.5 -200 mg pills.
The prescriptions were never meant for the medical care or treatment of the family, but were meant for Dr. Gartland’s individual use. Therefore, the prescriptions had been beyond the range of professional medical practice and were not issued for a valid medical purpose.
According to the indictment, Gartland packed the prescriptions at five pharmacies in York, Chester and Lancaster Counties. It is alleged that Gartland deceived the pharmacies to giving him the pills by making them feel they were meant for his family members. WellSpan and Medicare were allegedly defrauded when they compensated claims filed by the pharmacies for the prescriptions.
Judge Schwab published Gartland on supervised release pending completion of a Pre- Sentence Report. No date has yet been set for sentencing.
Gartland, who had been affiliated with WellSpan Internal Medicine, was terminated from his job Nov. 17, also has been indicted Nov. 29.
The case had been investigated by the Harrisburg Offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, along with the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is enforced by the Judge after consideration of the relevant national sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Health Care Fraud is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Obtaining Possession of a Controlled Substance by Deception is punishable by up to 3 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge can also be needed to consider and weigh a variety of variables, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the crime; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the necessity to punish the defendant, safeguard the people and supply for the defendant’s educational, vocational and healthcare needs. For all these reasons, the maximum penalty for the crime is not a precise indicator of the possible sentence for a particular defendant.
From Digital First Media