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Drug takedown has some looking to recover

The largest ever health care fraud bust was announced this week by the U.S. Department of Justice and Health and Human Services. It involves 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts, including 165 medical professionals. They are charged for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than 2 billion dollars in false billings.

“Today I’m announcing we are breaking records again,” said U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. “The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, is announcing the largest health care fraud takedown in American history.”

Three Idaho medical professionals are among those swept up in the national health care fraud “takedown.” Pharmacist, Benjamin Hurley of Rigby, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an indictment charging him with two counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. More on that HERE.

Idaho has had a history with controlled substances, like opioids.

“The opioid problem in our state is increasing,” said Judge Gregory Moeller of the Seventh Judicial District. “In 2016, there were 119 opioid-related deaths in Idaho.”

Judge Moeller presides over felonies and sees a lot of cases stemming from controlled substances.

“Involving heroin, oxycodone, oxycontin, all of these type of opioids are causing problems for the judicial system, for law enforcement, for the Department of Corrections,” Moeller said.

In an effort to deal with the substance abuse crisis in the nation, there are such things called problem-solving courts.

It diverts non-violent, substance abusing offenders from prison and jail and places them into treatment.

“Holding them strictly accountable by randomly testing them for substances three times a week by having a very heavy load of classes and courses that they need to participate in and by having a heightened level of probation supervising them,” Moeller said.

The numbers from these programs show success versus prison time. According to Moeller, the rate for someone sent to prison to repeat a crime is about 80 percent.

“If we put somebody through a problem-solving court and they graduate, and of course not all of them graduate,” Moeller said. “But those that do their recidivism rate is generally under 30 percent.”

Every judge in the Seventh Judicial District in Eastern Idaho presides over a problem-solving court.

The charge of obtaining controlled substances by fraud is punishable by up to four years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and one year of supervised release.

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