LIVONIA (WWJ) – A Livonia doctor and multiple people who worked for him have been charged in what prosecutors call “a large-scale drug diversion scheme” involving dangerous prescription medications.
Dr. Zongli Chang, M.D. of Novi was named along with seven “patient recruiters” in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. They are: 56-year-old Darryl Parker, 26-year-old Tye Chandler, 57-year-old Karen Hall, 28-year-old Deangelo Givhan, 39-year-old Yolanda Cannon, 48-year-old Melvin McGuire, and 44-year-old Khary Tremble, all of Detroit.
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced that each of the eight defendants are charged with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs.
According to prosecutors, Chang — who worked out of an office on 5 Mile Rd. and Farmington Rd. in Livonia — abused his medical license by writing medically unnecessary and highly addictive controlled substance prescriptions in return for cash.
The indictment claims Chang relied on his “patient recruiters” to bring paid “fake patients” to his office. The recruiters paid cash to acquaintances to act as patients of Dr. Chang, and the recruiters then paid Chang for the prescriptions provided.
After a cursory exam or no exam at all, the feds say Chang always prescribed the requested drugs, which included hydrocodone, oxycodone and other potentially deadly opioids.
According to the indictment, Chang prescribed more than 2,700,000 dosage units of these Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances during the course of the conspiracy, with a total conservative street value of more than $18,000,000. Agents seized more than $600,000 in cash during a search of Chang’s Novi home.
The charges come amid a U.S. Justice Department in response to an opioid crisis that has killed tens of thousands of people nationwide.
“Our office has no tolerance for corrupt doctors who are making Michigan’s opioid crisis even worse by unnecessarily prescribing drugs,” Schneider said, in a statement. “We will vigorously prosecute those who spread these poisons on our streets.”
Chang’s medical license was suspended by the state back in May of last year in accordance with the state’s Public Health Code, which provides for the summary suspension of a health professional’s license when the public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action.
“The routine manner in which Dr. Chang illegally made medically unnecessary prescription drugs available to co-conspirators who enabled drug abusers to further their addictions will not be tolerated,” said David Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Detroit. “The FBI and our federal partners remain committed to identifying and incarcerating those responsible for sophisticated drug diversion schemes in Michigan.”
In addition to the drug charges, Chang faces three counts of health care fraud for billing Medicare for services not provided.