DETROIT (WWJ) – Two Detroit area doctors have been charged with the illegal distribution of prescription drugs and health care fraud, according to a 68-count superseding indictment unsealed this week.
Dr. Luis Collazo, 53, was arraigned on the charges Friday, while Dr. Hussein “Sam” Awada, 43, will be arraigned on Monday. Both defendants were also charged with billing Medicare and other health insurance programs for medically unnecessary testing and procedures.
The 68-count superseding indictment charges that from December 2010 through 2012, Awada and Collazo distributed controlled substances — including the highly addictive drugs Oxycodone, Roxicodone, and Opana ER — outside the course of usual medical practice and for no legitimate purpose.
The indictment alleges that Awada used recruiters, including co-defendant 39-year-old James Lyons, to bring patients to his “Midwest Family Practice” at two locations in Warren. After ordering unnecessary medical procedures, Awada gave controlled substance prescriptions to the recruiter in exchange for cash payments. The recruiter then sold the pills for profit on the illegal street market.
The indictment also claims that Awada and Collazo committed health care fraud by billing for unnecessary office visits, submitting patients brought by recruiters to medically unnecessary testing and procedures — including x-rays, nuclear cardiac stress tests, electrocardiograms, blood work, and injections — and by causing Medicare and other insurance programs to pay for unnecessary controlled substances.
According to the indictment, Collazo participated in the drug diversion and health care fraud scheme while he worked for Awada at the Midwest Family Practice on 12 Mile Road in Warren.
More than $600,000 in funds and three automobiles were seized during the course of the underlying investigation.
“This indictment is another example of DEA’s determination to combat the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country. These two doctors abused their positions of trust and jeopardized the lives of many individuals by illegally distributing highly addictive opiate painkillers,” Robert L. Corso, DEA Special Agent in Charge said in a statement.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.