The Justice Department’s new opioid fraud squad, Opioid and Abuse Detection Unit, has gotten its first indictment — a Pittsburgh-area physician who allegedly prescribed heavy-duty painkillers to patients and insisted on being paid in cash.
Andrzej Kazimierz Zielke was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on 14 counts of conspiracy and unlawfully distributing controlled substances, charges that could send the 62-year-old to prison for up to 20 years.
Zielke allegedly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine sulfate and methadone “not for medical purposes” at least 13 times and charged about $250 cash to patients who traveled for miles to his “holistic pain management practice” in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, according to the Department of Justice.
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The Opioid and Abuse Detection Unit was unveiled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August. It has dispatched teams of prosecutors to opioid-ravaged states like Pennsylvania and uses data to zero-in on doctors who prescribe large amounts of painkillers.