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Case Update: Lancaster Co. Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Drugs

September 3, 2020 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today said the Lancaster County psychiatrist charged in June with illegally prescribing drugs to patients pleaded guilty to charges and will serve six months of house arrest, five years of probation, pay a $50,000 fine, have his Pennsylvania medical license suspended, and perform 50 hours of community service.

Bassam El-Borno, M.D., 64, pleaded guilty before Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dennis E. Reinaker to felony charges, including violations of the Drug Act for prescribing outside the good faith practice of medicine and failing to keep records, Medicaid Fraud and Insurance Fraud.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General worked in partnership with the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, on this case.

“This doctor confessed to his crimes and is being held accountable for his actions,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Our prescription drug addiction epidemic is due, in part, to bad actors who facilitate these serious prescription drugs falling into the hands of those struggling with addiction. My office works every day to stop those who skirt the law and endanger innocent Pennsylvanians.”

“Dr. El-Borno was a licensed psychiatrist entrusted by the Medicare and Medicaid programs with providing safe and reliable mental health services to patients seeking his care. Instead of providing true and effective mental health services, Dr. El-Borno chose to charge patients a flat monthly fee in exchange for obtaining addictive and potentially dangerous prescription drugs that were often times abused by his patients with little to no oversight,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Philadelphia. “HHS-OIG will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to protect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by bringing medical providers like Dr. El-Borno to justice.”

El-Borno prescribed addictive Schedule II controlled substances like Adderall and Ritalin to patients for years without a proper evaluation, diagnosis, or ongoing assessment. And, he charged $50 or $75 cash for each prescription, often mailing or taping them in envelopes outside the office.

This joint investigation was led by Special Agent Tucker Beecher from the Office of Attorney General (OAG), Medicaid Fraud Control Section; Narcotics Agent Donald Heffner from OAG’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control; and Special Agent John Riley from the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. Senior Deputy Attorney General Susann Morrison prosecuted the case.

The Pennsylvania MFCU receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and  Human Services under a grant award totaling $9,536,968 for Federal fiscal year 2020. The remaining 25 percent, $3,178,987 for FY 2020, is funded by Pennsylvania.

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