Maine Doctor Gets Healthcare Fraud Sentence

October 7, 2004

A urologist practicing in Maine has been sentenced in federal District Court to a term of probation for healthcare fraud.

United States Attorney Michael Sullivan; Joseph Moraski, Regional Inspector General of the Health and Human Services, Office of Investigations; Keith Johnston, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Service; and Kenneth Kaiser, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New England; and Terrell Vermillion, Director of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, announced that Joseph Olstein, 58, of Lewiston, Maine, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner to one year of unsupervised probation and a fine of $20,000.

Olstein pleaded guilty in April, 2001 to a one count criminal Information charging him with conspiring to bill insurance companies for free samples of the drug Lupron, which he had received from sales representatives employed by TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc.

At the sentencing hearing, Health Care Fraud Chief Michael Loucks urged the Court not to impose a sentence of imprisonment, and to impose only the sentence of probation, given the substantial assistance that Olstein, a urologist with an office in Lewiston, Maine, had provided to the government. Olstein assisted the government in connection with the investigation in Massachusetts of TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc., as well as an investigation of AstraZeneca, conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware.

Olstein reportedly began cooperating with the investigation in the Fall 1999 and his information allowed the government to focus and streamline its investigative efforts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Loucks pointed out to the Court that at the time, only four federal prosecutors and fewer than 10 government agents were working on both investigations.

By providing truthful cooperation and assistance from the outset, Olstein’s cooperation reportedly helped both investigations substantially. The two investigations of the corporations were resolved with corporate pleas and global settlement agreements with aggregate recoveries to the United States Treasury of more than $1.2 billion. Olstein had previously made a restitution payment of approximately $50,000.

Olstein is the fourth doctor to be convicted in connection with this investigation. Previously, Dr. Rodney Mannion, a urologist practicing in LaPorte and Michigan City, Indiana, was charged in February, 2000 with Healthcare fraud and pleaded guilty to the charge in April, 2000. Dr. Jacob Zamstein, a urologist practicing in Bloomfield, Connecticut, was charged in November, 2000 with Healthcare fraud and pleaded guilty in December, 2000. Dr. Joseph Spinella, a urologist practicing in Bristol, Connecticut was charged in December, 2000 with Healthcare fraud and pleaded guilty in March, 2001.

All three doctors also reportedly cooperated in the government’s investigation and all were sentenced to terms of probation. In a trial concluded this summer, a number of TAP employees were acquitted of charges regarding the provision of samples and other things of value to urologists, in exchange for the purchase of the drug Lupron.

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