AG: 3 local doctors charged in prescription drug, theft scheme

Updated:

Loading

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Charges have been filed against a Pittsburgh-area chiropractor, two medical doctors and the company that employed them following an investigation into the unlawful prescribing practices of the medical doctors employed at the facility, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Friday.

Kane identified the defendants as Dr. Jack Taylor, Dr. Mark Boles and Dr. Edward Sweeney. Dr. Taylor is the owner of Pittsburgh Healthworx on Fells Church Road in Belle Vernon, which is also charged as a result of the investigation.

Evidence and testimony regarding the alleged illegal activity was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges be filed, Kane said.

The grand jury found that Boles and Sweeney illegally prescribed OxyContin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and other controlled substances to drug-dependent patients, Kane said.

Agents estimate that over the course of the investigation, Pittsburgh Healthworx, through the actions of the medical doctors, illegally prescribed thousands of pills, according to Kane.

"The evidence in this case will show that these physicians believed they were above the law, and what’s worse, they allegedly preyed upon drug-addicted patients to line their own pockets," Kane said.

The attorney general noted that Pennsylvania has the country's 14th-highest rate of drug overdoses, most of which are caused by prescription drugs.

"Doctors are supposed to help free patients from the grip of addiction, not put them into the throes of it," she said. "My office is exploring solutions to this epidemic, one of which is working with the legislature to track Schedule III, IV and V drugs so that we can more easily identify unscrupulous members of the medical community."

According to the grand jury, Taylor required patients who were illegally receiving controlled substances to submit to chiropractic services multiple times a week in order to continue seeing a medical doctor at the clinic for their prescriptions. Agents said in many of the cases, individuals did not need the chiropractic services and were merely using them as a ruse in order to feed their addiction.

The grand jury found that from January 2007 to May 2013, Pittsburgh Healthworx received more than $2.3 million in payments for medical and chiropractic services from Highmark Insurance.

In addition to the payments from Highmark, Taylor also allegedly misled UNUM Insurance about his ability to work following a motorcycle accident in the fall of 2010. Taylor allegedly returned to work full time in January 2011 as a chiropractor and collected a full salary from Pittsbugh Healthworx while allegedly continuing to collect disability benefits from UNUM, Kane said.

Agents estimate that Taylor collected approximately $45,000 in benefits over an 18-month period, in which he also collected a full salary from Pittsburgh Healthworx.

Below is a complete list of the defendants and the charges against them.

--Dr. Jack Taylor, 59, Belle Vernon, Fayette County, is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of insurance fraud and one count of theft by deception.

--Dr. Mark Boles, 59, Monroeville, Allegheny County, is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, one count of Medicaid fraud, one count of unlawful prescribing, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of prescribing to a drug-dependent person.

--Dr. Edward Sweeney, 65, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, one count of Medicaid fraud, one count of unlawful prescribing, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of prescribing to a drug-dependent person.

--Pittsburgh Healthworx, 1112 Fells Church Road, Belle Vernon, Westmoreland County, is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations and one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity.