Beshear: Medicaid Fraud Unit Secures Guilty Plea of Former Eastern Kentucky Suboxone Clinic Doctor

Doctor admits to unlawfully dispensing and taking cash for Suboxone, forfeits medical license 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 2, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear and his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse today announced a former Eastern Kentucky doctor pleaded guilty to eight  counts related to the illegal operation of a Suboxone clinic in Lawrence County.

Beshear’s office said charging Medicaid recipients cash for Suboxone and improperly prescribing the drug led Curtis Edens, 59, formerly of Louisa, to enter a guilty plea in Lawrence Circuit Court.

Edens pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by deception under $500, a Class A misdemeanor; two counts of devising or engaging in a scheme to defraud the Kentucky Medical Assistance Program of $300 or more, a Class D felony, and one count of unlawful dispensing/prescribing/ administering of a controlled substance, a Class D felony. As part of the plea, Edens agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution within six months of the sentencing date, scheduled for May 24, and agreed not to seek reinstatement of his Kentucky Medical License.

“While there are trustworthy, legal Suboxone clinics that provide real and needed treatment in our state, the rogue doctors and clinics who put profits ahead of Kentuckians’ lives must be shut down,” said Beshear. “In this case, we were able to close the clinic and strip the doctor of his medical license.”

Edens was an OB-GYN doctor who also operated a Suboxone clinic. When Beshear’s office indicted Edens in 2017, they alleged that he improperly charged Medicaid patients cash for Medicaid covered services. It was also alleged that he pre-signed prescriptions for Suboxone to be handed out when he was not in the office, which resulted in fraudulent billings being submitted to Medicaid.

Edens’ case was investigated by the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse in the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office with vital assistance from the Appalachia HIDTA Diversion Task Force and the Cabinet for Health and Family Service’s Office of the Inspector General, Drug Enforcement and Professional Practices Branch.

Edens resided in South Carolina at the time of his indictment and Beshear’s office was also assisted in the arrest by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department in South Carolina. Edens waived extradition and was brought to Kentucky for his court hearings.

Since taking office, Beshear has taken action to tackle the state’s substance-abuse epidemic and protect Kentuckians from those who seek to exploit the state’s Medicaid program. 

Last year, Beshear filed a civil lawsuit in Breathitt Circuit Court against an alleged rogue treatment clinic for Medicaid fraud, harmful business practices and illegal distribution of an addictive drug. That lawsuit names and alleges that four owners of The Recovery Center, with locations in Frankfort, Hazard, Jackson, Mount Sterling, London, Paintsville and Richmond, illegally prescribed Buprenorphine or Suboxone to thousands of Kentucky Medicaid patients. The case is ongoing.

Efforts by Beshear’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse, through civil settlements and criminal restitution, have resulted in nearly $88 million in obligations to state and federal Medicaid programs, Medicare, Tricare, commercial payers and other entities. Over the past three years, the office’s work has contributed to nearly 60 convictions for Medicaid provider fraud or patient abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Beshear now leads the nation in the number of individual opioid lawsuits filed by an attorney general. Beshear has brought a total of nine lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for allegedly flooding Kentucky communities with dangerous prescription drugs. Five of the lawsuits have withstood motions to dismiss and are moving forward. All of them are in Kentucky circuit courts.

To report allegations of Medicaid provider fraud contact the Attorney General’s tip line at 877-228-7384.