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Rigby pharmacist among those charged in federal “takedown”

Three Idaho medical professionals are among those swept up in a national health care fraud “takedown.”

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Bart Davis said three defendants have been charged for their roles in three separate fraud schemes involving controlled substances.

Benjamin Hurley, 37, of Rigby is a pharmacist. Hurley pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an indictment charging him with two counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. His trial will be set for a later date in front of U.S. District Judge David C. Nye at the federal courthouse in Boise.

Registered Nurse Jennifer Fanopoulos, 40, of Meridian pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with multiple counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and identity theft. Her trial was set for August 21 in Boise.

And, pharmacist John Steiner, 35, of Lewiston was indicted with multiple counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. Steiner is set to appear July 3 before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

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.

The three Idaho cases were investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad.

They were among the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it involved 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts. Those charged included 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. They allegedly participated in health care fraud schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings.

162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged with prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.

U.S. Health and Human Services also announced that from July 2017 to today it has excluded 2,700 people from participating in Medicare, Medicaid and all other federal health care programs.

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