Pittsburgh-area doctor accused of illegally distributing opioids, ‘unnecessary injections’

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh-area doctor is facing federal charges, accused of unlawfully distributing opioids and performing unnecessary injections for profit.

According to the indictment, Dr. John Keun Sang Lee, 78, spent years prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl and other painkillers “not for a legitimate medical purpose.”

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He is also accused of performing “repetitive and medically unnecessary injections on patients, in many cases for several years and, at times, directly against the patient’s express wishes, in order to increase revenue.”

The federal documents further allege he defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr. Lee is the owner of Jefferson Pain and Rehabilitation Center, which has a main office on Clairton Boulevard in Whitehall. A biography on his website states he is also a staff member at Jefferson Hospital and UPMC McKeesport.

A UPMC spokesperson told us that Dr. Lee is not employed by UPMC and does not work at any of its sites.

Dr. Lee has entered a “not guilty” plea and was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

Channel 11 spoke with his defense attorney, Stephen Stallings, who calls the charges “meritless” and says his client is innocent.

“Dr. Lee is a very well-respected, highly-credentialed pain doctor, whose had a practice in the Pittsburgh area since 1983, without any significant issues,” Stallings said. “The prescription of these particular substances and injections are part of the medical treatment for his patients, the legitimate medical treatment for his patients.”

Despite the objection from federal prosecutors, a judge is reportedly allowing Dr. Lee to continue practicing and prescribing until May 28, providing time for his patients to transition to another practice, officials said.

During that time, Dr. Lee is required to report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on a weekly basis, before surrendering his DEA license on May 28.

Stallings told Channel 11 that prior to the indictment, May 28 had been the date in which Dr. Lee had planned a “wind down” of his practice as he aimed to retire.

Stallings said he believes his client will be acquitted.

“We have a Department of Justice that has come under fire recently, quite a bit, and there is an opioid epidemic ... this, to me, appears to be an effort by the DOJ to make it appear like they’re doing something,” Stallings said. “But ... arresting a 78-year-old good doctor and issuing splashy press releases is not the way to do it.”

According to records, Dr. Lee resides in Washington County. We visited the home, a gated estate, and dialed an intercom in attempts to reach him for a direct comment, but no one answered.