LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentuckiana anesthesiologist Jaime Guerrero was sentenced to 100 months in prison, by United States District Judge Greg N. Stevens on Thursday, and according to the terms of a prior plea agreement, agreed to forfeit his license to practice medicine and real property owned by Guerrero Real Estate Investments, LLC. Further, Guerrero agreed to pay $827,000 in victim restitution to nine health care benefit programs announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Guerrero, age 48, formerly a medical physician with offices in Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, pleaded guilty to 31 counts of a 35 count Superseding Indictment on January 7, 2016, including unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances, health care fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
“The prescribing practices of a very few physicians in Kentucky have caused immeasurable harm,” stated U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “Reckless prescribing encourages abuse, creates addicts, and builds the foundation for the scourge of heroin that so many pill addicts turn to. The personal and social costs are no less than tragic. My office will aggressively prosecute doctors like Dr. Guerrero who prescribe narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. We will seek justice and accountability for the harm they do.”
“Doctors take an oath to ‘first, do no harm.’ Dr. Guerrero violated that oath, and today’s sentence is a solemn reminder that the cost of health care fraud is not one just paid in money. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to vigorously investigating those who seek to enrich themselves and threaten the public’s safety through fraudulent health care schemes,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Howard Marshall.
“This doctor was operating as a drug dealer in a white coat,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta. “This sentence should be a wake-up call to physicians across the state: if you’re overprescribing narcotics you are facing a lengthy prison sentence.”
“The dangerous overprescribing of opioid drugs by some providers has had tragic consequences for public health in southern Indiana and western Kentucky. The Indiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of my office worked with our colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and unravel this illegal scheme, hold the defendant accountable and recoup taxpayers’ funds,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who co-chairs the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force. Its website is www.BitterPill.in.gov.
“Addressing the diversion and abuse of controlled substance prescription medications is a top priority of the DEA. In this instance, Jaime Guerrero, formerly an anesthesiologist abused his position of trust and jeopardized the lives of many individuals by dispensing controlled substances to patients without a medical purpose. This sentence should serve as a notice to all medical professionals that if you prescribe medication for personal gain you will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit Field Division, Timothy J. Plancon
According to the plea agreement, from November 1, 2009, continuing through January 1, 2013, Guerrero conspired with others to knowingly and intentionally distribute and dispense, schedule II and III controlled substances to patients, without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of professional medical practice. Beginning November 1, 2009, and continuing through May 8, 2014, Guerrero admitted to distributing and dispensing Schedule II and III controlled substances to patients (listed in counts 2-26) without a legitimate medical purpose beyond the bounds of professional medical practice. Beginning on or about January 6, 2010, and continuing through September 16, 2011, Guerrero knowingly and intentionally distributed and dispensed, and caused to be distributed and dispensed Hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, to patient S.O., without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of professional medical practice, which resulted in S.O.’s death on or about September 24, 2011.
Guerrero further pleaded guilty to three counts of health care fraud for fraudulently billing various health care benefit programs and for submitting fraudulent claims for patient health care counseling. Specifically, on May 26, 2011, June 15, 2011, and June 22, 2011, Guerrero saw more than 100 patients on each of the dates, by himself, and spent approximately 3 minutes or less with each patient, and fraudulently billed various health care benefit programs, for office visits at a higher code than the service provided. Between July 9, 2010 and July 22, 2010, Guerrero travelled outside of the United States and directed staff personnel to provide group counseling sessions for patients in his absence. The group sessions were then billed as individual counseling sessions, and as if Guerrero personally provided the service. Additionally, between January 1, 2008, and continuing through June 15, 2012, Guerrero falsely and fraudulently submitted over 100 claims to various health care benefit programs for office visits at a higher code than the service provided; for office visits that were not medically necessary or within the course of usual medical practice; submitting claims for services that were not sufficiently documented in the patient’s medical record; and making claims for office visits as though a physician saw the patient, when in fact, a nurse practitioner saw the patient. Guerrero agreed to pay $827,000 in victim restitution to nine health care benefit programs
Finally, Guerrero pleaded guilty to a single money laundering charge for redeeming (paying the taxes) on a building located at 1201 West Wall Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, with $89,556.25 in cash derived from unlawful activity – the unlawful dispensing and distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Ansari and Lettricea Jefferson-Webb and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Indiana and Kentucky Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).