Pa. AG Makes Doctor Cough Up Scam

February 28, 2006

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett reported that an
Allegheny County medical doctor was criminally charged for writing
fraudulent prescriptions for highly addictive cough suppressants in his
patients’ names without their knowledge, billing the costs of the drugs
to their insurance company and then diverting the drugs for personal

Corbett said agents with the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section charged Dr. Robert P. Snyder, 36, of Wexford, Allegheny
County, with Insurance Fraud and drug charges for writing the illegal
prescriptions and then submitting the costs to Highmark Insurance for
payment. The charges state that Dr. Snyder never delivered the drugs to his patients but obtained the narcotics for his own use.

According to the charges, Dr. Snyder between 2001 and 2005 wrote more than 320 illegal prescriptions for Hydromet Syrup and/or Hydrocodone Compound. The Schedule III narcotics are typically prescribed by doctors to treat severe coughs and difficulty swallowing.

The charges allege that Dr. Snyder covered the patients’ co-payments on nearly 140 of those prescriptions and then $430 in claims was submitted to the insurance companies. The other 180 alleged illegal prescriptions were purchased by Dr. Snyder with cash.

In each case, Dr. Snyder is charged with calling-in the prescriptions to
various pharmacies throughout Allegheny, Westmoreland and Indiana
counties under the names of nine separate patients or friends.

Many of the alleged illegal prescriptions were reportedly written for the defendant’s mother, a former girlfriend and her mother, and a recent girlfriend’s grandfather. The charges claim that the filled prescriptions were always picked-up at the pharmacies by Dr. Snyder.

“The defendant apparently called the prescriptions in to many different
pharmacies, some far away from where the patients’ lived to avoid
getting caught,” Corbett said. “In the end, it was a pharmacist who
questioned why a doctor was routinely picking up a patient’s
prescriptions that lead to the investigation and arrest.”

According to the charges, investigators interviewed several patients
whose names were used to obtain the drugs. They stated that they had no knowledge of the prescriptions and no use for the particular medicine.

The charges also state that various druggists identified Dr. Snyder in a
photo line-up as the individual who signed for, and picked up, the
prescriptions. Some said they suspected that he was an actual relative of the patients. In at least one case, Dr. Snyder is accused of
pretending to be a patient’s husband.

The defendant was arrested on the felony counts and released on nominal bail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 12.

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