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FDA to Shut Down 4,402 Illegal Prescription Drug Websites

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, announced that it took action this week against 4,402 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs to U.S. consumers. This effort was part of Operation Pangea IX, the Ninth Annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a global cooperative effort, led by INTERPOL, to combat the unlawful sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit medical products on the internet.

“Preventing illegal internet sales of dangerous unapproved drugs is critical to protecting consumers’ health,” said George Karavetsos, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Operation Pangea IX demonstrates the FDA’s continuing commitment to stand united with our international partners to protect consumers in the United States and throughout the world from criminals who put profit above the health and safety of consumers.”

The goal of Operation Pangea IX was to identify the makers and distributors of illegal prescription drug products and to remove these products from the supply chain.

The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Office of Regulatory Affairs, and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research participated in the enforcement action, which ran from May 31 to June 7, 2016. The FDA conducted extensive inspections at International Mail Facilities (IMFs) in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and sent formal complaints to domain registrars requesting the suspension of the 4,402 websites. Included are 110 websites that sell the chemical 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) as a weight-loss product. DNP is most often used as a dye, wood preserver, and herbicide and has never been approved by the FDA for use as a drug.

A recent FDA task force investigation into the distribution of DNP resulted in a May 9, 2016 guilty plea from Adam Alden of Bakersfield, California, for introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce. A Rhode Island customer who purchased DNP via the internet from Alden, among other sources, died in October 2013 as a result of DNP ingestion.

During the IIWA, the FDA, in addition to requesting the suspension of 4,402 websites, issued warning letters to the operators of 53 websites illegally offering unapproved and misbranded prescription drug products for sale to U.S. consumers. FDA inspectors, in collaboration with other federal agencies, screened and seized illegal drug products received through IMFs in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. These screenings resulted in the detention of 797 parcels which, if found in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, will be refused entry into the country and destroyed.

Preliminary findings from drug products screened at the IMFs show that U.S. consumers had purchased certain unapproved drug products from abroad to treat depression, narcolepsy, high cholesterol, glaucoma, and asthma, among other diseases. Consumers should be cautious when buying prescription drugs online. For tips on how to identify an illegal pharmacy website and advice on how to find a safe online pharmacy go to BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.

In addition to health risks, illegal online pharmacies pose other risks to consumers, including credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses. The FDA encourages consumers to report suspected criminal activity at

The IIWA is a collaborative effort between the FDA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime, Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers, the pharmaceutical industry and national health and law enforcement agencies from 115 participating countries.

Fraud Charges Filed Against Santa Barbara Cop

A Santa Barbara police officer was charged with four felonies related to worker’s compensation insurance fraud, allegedly committed while employed at the department, theSanta Barbara County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

The Santa Barbara Noozhawk reports that Jacob Finerty, 28, was hired by the SBPD in September 2011 and a worker’s compensation fraud investigation began in 2014, interim Police Chief John Crombach said. “This came to our attention I think in 2014 and we initiated an investigation, and it then began to take a criminal turn when there appeared there was some fraud involved here,” he said.

Finerty has been out on leave, related to his worker’s compensation claim, on and off since 2014 and was placed on unpaid leave several weeks ago, pending the trial, The claim was for an alleged work-related injury, Crombach said.

The District Attorney’s Office filed four felony of insurance fraud counts against Finerty and Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling, who is prosecuting the case, said the two insurance code sections both apply to worker’s compensation fraud; One section applies to a fraudulent oral statement and the other applies to fraudulent written statements.

Finerty, identified by the District Attorney’s Office as a resident of Hesperia in San Bernardino County, had not been booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail as of Monday afternoon, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. He is not in custody and is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court June 24.

SBPD detectives conducted the investigation after the California Department of Insurance declined to take the case, Crombach said. “We investigate all allegations of misconduct, and during the investigation if it appears that it’s criminal in nature, then that’s the way the investigation goes and then we present the results to the DA,” he said.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said the fact Finerty was a police officer wasn’t a consideration in the charges. Worker’s compensation fraud charges have been filed against other local government employees in the past, she said. In presentations to other government agencies and companies, “we make it clear that we’re in the business of investigating fraud on every level, including worker’s comp,” she said.

This is the second high-profile SBPD employee criminal case in recent years, with former business office manager Karen Flores sentenced to state prison after pleading no contest to embezzlement, stealing public funds and destroying parking citations.

LA Teacher Faces Fraud Charges After Altercation

Eric Johnson, 61, of Valencia, was arrested by Department of Insurance detectives, at his place of employment in Lancaster, on two felony counts of insurance fraud and one felony count of child abuse after an incident with a student.

Johnson, a teacher for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, filed a workers’ compensation claim after an altercation with a 17-year-old minor at the Camp Mendenhall juvenile facility.

Johnson claimed the student initiated the altercation striking him in the jaw and lip. Johnson stated the minor then shoved him into a wall, but video evidence revealed Johnson actually instigated the physical altercation and assaulted the minor. Victim and witness statements corroborated the video evidence. According to the evidence, Johnson did not sustain any physical injuries.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education paid approximately $1,000 in losses because of Johnson’s allegedly fraudulent claim. Early discovery of Johnson’s claim likely prevented larger losses for the county.

Johnson was booked into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detention facility. This case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

Seven Indicted by Riverside Grand Jury for Fraudulent Medical Claims

Seven defendants have been indicted by a Riverside County grand jury in a case involving workers’ compensation insurance fraud. The two separate, but related grand jury indictments are the result of a joint investigation by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance. The indictments were issued after evidence was presented to the Riverside County grand jury over a six-week period ending in mid-May.

The two indictments allege that 18 insurance companies were defrauded in this scheme in which $98 million was fraudulently billed, resulting in $12.4 million being paid by the insurance companies.

The first indictment, (case RIF1670175), charges 45 year old chiropractor Peyman Heidary, of Riverside; 59 year old attorney Cary David Abramowitz, of Los Angeles; and also 34 year old Ana Solis of Rancho Cucamonga; and 53 year old Gladys Ross of Simi Valley, with 69 felony counts which include conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, making a false insurance claim, making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, money laundering, practicing medicine without a license, and capping. There also is one misdemeanor count of unlicensed practice of law.

Heidary, is described in court records as a chiropractor and suspected architect of a “massive, fully integrated criminal enterprise” designed to commit workers’ compensation insurance fraud. According to the indictment, Heidary went by the aliases Brian Heidary, Number One and The Godfather. Heidary owned or ran numerous businesses, including law firms and health clinics, and relied on other people to disguise his involvement and create a complex and illegal ownership structure, according to court records. The criminal activity dates back to at least 2009, according to investigators. Heidary was originally charged in July 2014, but an indictment filed last month in Riverside County Superior Court expands the case and named new co-conspirators.

The second indictment, (case RIF1670176), charges 37 year old chiropractor Touba Pakdel-Nabati, of Costa Mesa; and doctors 57 year old Quynam Nguyen, of Orange; and and 50 year old Jason Yang, of Pasadena, with 38 felony counts which include conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, making a false insurance claim, making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, and capping. Both indictments also allege multiple excessive takings enhancements and an aggravated white collar crime enhancement.

The charges stem from the operation of a workers’ compensation medical mill, spearheaded by chiropractor Peyman Heidary, and involving other medical providers, which allegedly corrupted the workers’ compensation system to defraud insurance companies out of millions of dollars.

Investigators found 63 bank accounts controlled by Heidary or jointly with Abramowitz that were linked to 48 businesses. Investigators believe nearly $30.3 million moved through Heidiary’s businesses from October 2013 to August 2015.

Solis worked as an office manager who directed untrained paralegals to fill bogus claims and who also recruited new clients. Ross is the owner and CEO of several medical billing companies who contracted with Heidary and his clinics.

If convicted as currently charged, Heidary faces a potential maximum sentence of 97 years and 4 months in state prison; and Pakdel-Nabati, Nguyen, Yang, Abramowitz, Solis, and Ross each face a potential maximum sentence of 63 years and 4 months in state prison.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Erika Mulhere, Matthew Murray, and Raymond Ramirez of the DA’s Financial Crimes Unit.

Former Assemblyman Tom Calderon Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

Former Democratic Assemblyman Tom Calderon pleaded guilty to one felony count of money laundering as part of an agreement in which federal prosecutors offered to seek a prison sentence of no more than 12 months. Prosecutors agreed to drop six charges against Tom Calderon as part of the agreement.

Tom Calderon recently underwent heart surgery that forced a delay in his trial. He admits in the plea bargain that he and his brother, Ron Calderon, hid bribe money through laundering it through his company.

The plea settles his part of a criminal case that also alleges that his brother, former Democratic state Sen. Ron Calderon, accepted bribes, according to a court filing released Monday by the U.S. attorney’s office. His attorney, Mark Geragos, said a plea agreement for Ron Calderon was not being discussed and expected the case would proceed to trial.

In accepting Tom Calderon’s guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder emphasized that she is not beholden to the terms of the deal he struck with the government. While the maximum punishment for a count of money laundering is 20 years’ imprisonment and $500,000 in fines, sentencing guidelines make it far more likely that Snyder would increase the sentence for Calderon by a matter of months instead of years – if she decides to depart from the plea agreement at all.

Outside the courtroom, the Los Angeles Times reports that Ron Calderon’s attorney Mark Geragos, was critical of the plea agreement, calling it a “sweetheart deal” that was meant to put pressure on his client. Tom Calderon is not required to testify against his brother under the terms of the agreement. It is uncertain whether prosecutors will be permitted to tell a jury in Ron Calderon’s trial about the guilty plea.

Ron and Tom Calderon were indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2014. Ron Calderon was charged with 24 felony counts that include accepting $88,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions. He has pleaded not guilty and there is no plea agreement in his case, officials said Monday.

The former state senator is accused of accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a film industry executive in exchange for advocating for an extension of tax credits for film productions. Investigators also allege he took bribes from the owner of a medical firm in exchange for action on legislation involving workers’ compensation.

The plea agreement says that Tom Calderon admits that he founded a political consulting company, Calderon Group Inc., and also became an executive officer of Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit group.

“In or around April 2013, defendant and his brother Ronald S. Calderon agreed to conceal the fact that Ronald S. Calderon was receiving bribe money from undercover FBI agents,” the agreement alleges, adding that Tom Calderon “agreed to allow bribe money to be funneled through the Calderon Group in order to conceal and disguise the fact that the money represented the proceeds of bribery.” The agreement mentioned that Ron Calderon allegedly directed an undercover FBI agent to make a $30,000 payment to the Calderon Group on April 16, 2013.

The plea agreement signed by Tom Calderon and his attorney Shepard Kopp on Monday says he understands that he “willfully caused to be conducted a financial transaction involving property that represented the proceeds of bribery,” and that he knew that the transaction was “designed to conceal” the source of the bribery proceeds.

Michael Drobot’s Son Pleads Guilty In Pacific Hospital Case

Three new defendants join six others who were previously charged in relation to the ongoing investigation into kickbacks for patient referrals and fraudulent bills for spinal surgeries performed at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach. The scheme involved tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others.

As a result of the illegal payments, thousands of patients were referred to Pacific Hospital, where they underwent spinal surgeries that led to more than $580 million in fraudulent bills being submitted during the last eight years of the scheme alone. Many of the fraudulent claims were paid by the California worker’s compensation system and the federal government through the Federal Workers’ Compensation System.

Documents in the two unsealed cases which became publicly available last week indicate that Michael R. Drobot, 44, of Newport Beach, the son of Pacific Hospital owner Michael D. Drobot (Drobot Senior), pleaded guilty on March 4 to conspiracy and illegal kickback charges. Drobot Junior is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18.

Chiropractor Michael E. Barri, 48, of San Clemente, who owned and operated the Santa Ana companies Tri-Star Medical Group and Jojaso Management Company, pleaded guilty on March 11 to a conspiracy count and admitted that he received illegal kickbacks for referrals to Pacific Hospital from 2009 through October 2013. During a nine-month period that ended in 2013, Barri admitted receiving $158,555 in illegal kickbacks after referring a dozen patients to Pacific Hospital, where they had back surgeries. As a result of his referrals, Pacific Hospital billed insurance carriers approximately $3.9 million for spinal surgeries. Barri is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2017.

Linda Martin, 66, of Clovis, California, who was a marketer for Pacific Hospital who recruited medical professionals and others to refer patients with promises of kickbacks, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on May 27. She is scheduled to be sentenced on August 19.

These three defendants join six others – including Drobot Senior – who have also pleaded guilty. All nine defendants have agreed to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation – dubbed “Operation Spinal Cap” – into the kickback scheme, which involved dozens of surgeons, orthopedic specialists, chiropractors, marketers and other medical professionals.

“The guilty pleas are the latest step in holding accountable the individuals who co-opted doctors and other specialized healthcare workers to carry out multiple kickback conspiracies that abused the state and federal healthcare systems for more than a decade,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The continuing results of Operation Spinal Cap are based on a tremendous effort by investigators and prosecutors handling this case, which is among the largest healthcare fraud schemes to be perpetrated in the state of California.”

As described in court documents, Drobot Senior – who was the owner and/or CEO of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach until late 2013 and who pleaded guilty in April 2014 – ran a 15-year-long scheme in which he and others submitted hundreds of millions of dollars in bills to workers’ compensation insurers and the U.S. Department of Labor for spinal surgeries and other procedures performed on patients who had been referred by dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others who were paid illegal kickbacks.

When he is sentenced, Drobot Junior will face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Barri and Martin each face potential prison sentences of five years as a result of their guilty pleas.

Santa Barbara Contractor Faces Fraud Charges

A criminal complaint filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court against Mark Melchiori alleges the former president of Melchiori Construction Company committed 47 felonies from 2006-2013. The company has faced multiple lawsuits from 2011-2012, which alleged it did not pay its creditors and subcontractors on time.

In the District Attorney’s Office indictment, Melchiori, 49, is charged with embezzlement, insurance and wage fraud, violating the unemployment insurance code, diverting construction funds, and committing as well as conspiring to commit grand theft. The charges carry one special allegation of aggravated white-collar crime – taking over $150,000 – and two more special allegations – taking over $100,000 and $200,000, respectively.

The complaint includes 15 charges alleging Melchiori diverted over $350,000 worth of construction funds received from filmmaker Robert Zemeckis between July 2010 and May 1, 2016. The complaint further charges Melchiori deceived the filmmaker out of property worth $53,876.

One count charges Melchiori “directed employees to misclassify employee job duties and nature of work performed by Melchiori Construction Company” on paperwork filed with Everest National Insurance Company, which lowered the premiums paid to Everest by $52,008.

Melchiori is also accused of withholding disability fund deductions from his workers, refusing to make required unemployment tax contributions, and ordering workers not to report all wages made by employees. He’s charged with stealing wages from 14 employees and discouraging one to file a workers’ compensation claim.

The DA’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and the Division of Labor Standards investigated the case. Chief Deputy District Attorney Kelly Scott and real estate fraud attorney Casey Nelson are prosecuting Melchiori, who posted bail. Pending his July 5arraignment, it is unclear who is representing him.

Lawmakers Seek Investigations of Comp Medical Fraud

A California lawmaker says “something needs to be done” about widespread medical fraud in the state’s workers’ compensation system and called on a state commission Tuesday to launch an in-depth review of the matter. The story published by the Center for Investigative Reporting says that Sen. Tony Mendoza asked for a review of what the state is doing to combat what he deemed unsettling questions raised by a recent series of articles by the organization.

“It was actually very disturbing,” Mendoza said in an interview, “just the abuses that occur from individuals who want to make money from the system on the backs of these injured workers.”

The Reveal investigation found that more than 100,000 injured workers in California have encountered medical providers who are currently facing charges for fraud. The workers have undergone risky spinal surgeries spurred by millions in kickbacks and have endured tests and treatments by providers who’ve admitted to prescribing them for profit.

Multiple schemes seek to bypass the state’s system of checks and balances over medical treatment. They do so by soliciting injured workers, many of whom speak only Spanish, to go straight to the clinics of providers who seek payment for services in workers’ compensation courts.

Mendoza, a Cerritos Democrat, asked the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation to examine whether the state has enough tools, resources and data-analysis capacity to effectively combat the fraud problem.

“It is imperative that that we determine whether there are any regulatory or legislative solutions to fix and prevent such fraud in the workers compensation system,” he said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Mendoza’s call for a review came as Gov. Jerry Brown’s cabinet-level secretary for the Labor & Workforce Development Agency asked the state’s Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees workers’ compensation, to convene a working group to examine fraud in the system.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Christine Baker, the department’s director, Secretary David Lanier cited recent investigations, indictments and convictions that demonstrate “significant remaining challenges” in workers’ compensation. He called on the group to formulate “a set of comprehensive and strategic policy recommendations for consideration by the Governor and the Legislature.” Lanier’s spokesman said the secretary declined to comment and would let the letter speak for itself.

In May, Assemblyman Tom Daly, an Anaheim Democrat, asked the state auditor’s office to examine fraud in workers’ compensation, citing some of the specific findings in the recent news series. Daly’s office said the request, which was dropped from a legislative hearing earlier in May, is expected to go forward in August. A panel of lawmakers will decide whether the questions Daly raises merit an audit costing an estimated $333,600.

In a recent interview with Reveal, Mendoza said he has held hearings about the workers’ compensation system, and the testimony tends to feature a range of interests with varied grievances. Workers decry treatment denials, service providers rail against payment delays and employers complain about fraud.

“It’s a subject that you kind of throw your hands up in the air at times and say, ‘What can we do?’ ” he said. “You could just turn around and walk away, and I don’t want to do that. I do want to be more hands-on and try to solve the problem.”

Reveal examined more than a dozen criminal prosecutions against nearly 100 health providers accused of exploiting injured workers. The cases include one against a company accused of paying doctors millions in kickbacks to dispense unregulated pain creams that allegedly caused the death of a baby. Others accuse alleged medical mills of prescribing hectic schedules of treatment to every injured worker, regardless of his or her injury.

Several cases describe operations that rely on the state’s medical lien system for payments. California’s workers’ compensation system allows health care providers to bill for services outside of the state’s medical review channels and negotiate payment in a string of 24 workers’ compensation courts throughout the state. The Reveal investigation found that the number of medical liens is back up to the level it was at several years ago, even though lawmakers passed a law to tackle the problem in 2012.

CWCI 2016 IMR Study Confirms 2015 Trends

A new CWCI review of California’s Independent Medical Review (IMR) decisions from the first quarter of 2016 show results that are remarkably consistent with those found in CWCI’s study of 2015 IMR determination letters, with volume holding steady at an annualized rate of 160,000 letters, uphold rates at 89 percent and prescription drug requests (40 percent of which were for opioid painkillers and compounded drugs) continuing to represent nearly half of all medical service requests that undergo IMR.

Following adoption of emergency regulations governing the process, Independent Medical Reviews took effect for medical disputes on claims for all dates of injury in July 2013. In January 2014, CWCI conducted an examination of the first 1100 IMR determination letters issued in 2013, which was followed in April 2015 by an analysis of the more than 137,000 IMR decision letters that had been issued in 2014.

Earlier this year, the Institute conducted a follow-up study based on the 2015 IMR decision letters which found that the number of IMR decision letters had increased 19 percent to more than 163,000 in 2015. That study also noted that 39 percent of those letters included decisions on multiple service requests, so that altogether the letters issued in 2015 encompassed decisions on more than 304,000 medical service requests. This report extends the Institute’s IMR research series by providing an initial look at 2016 IMR experience, using data from IMR determination letters issued in the first qua1ter of this year.

In each of the past three quarters, Maximus issued approximately 40,000 letters containing determinations of medical necessity for up to 76,480 individual services. This annualizes to 160,000 letters and more than 300,000 service requests.

The first quarter 2016 IMR letters upheld the utilization review physicians’ UR modifications and denials of services 88.8 percent of the time, which is consistent with the 88.6 percent uphold rate noted in the analysis of 2015 IMR outcomes. This consistently high uphold rate shows that the vast majority of the disputed modifications and denials made by UR physicians continue to be found to be in line with the evidence-based medicine guidelines.

Almost 60 percent of the first quarter 2016 IMR decisions involved claims with a date of injury prior to the IMR program’s 2013 inception, but as in prior studies, claim age had no effect on the IMR uphold rate.

The regional distribution also was stable between 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, with 47.6 percent of the disputed services that went through IMR originating in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties and 20.5 percent originating in the Bay Area. The percentage of UR decisions that were upheld by the IMR physicians ranged from 84.9 percent in San Diego to 91 percent in Los Angeles County.

Pharmaceutical services remain the highest volume category under review, followed by physical therapy; durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies; and injections. As in 2014 and 2015, surgery represented less than 5 percent of the disputed service requests that underwent IMR in the first quarter of 2016.

Among the various categories of drugs that underwent IMR, opioids remained at the top of the list, accounting for 29 percent of all pharmaceutical requests for which IMR decisions were issued in the first quarter of 2016, followed by musculoskeletal therapy drugs (12 percent) and compounded drugs, which as in 2015, accounted for 11 percent of all prescription drug IMRs. In nearly 90 percent of the IMR cases involving opioids, the IMR physician agreed with the UR physician’s determination that the use, strength, quantity or duration of the opioid prescription was not medically necessary, while in 97.7 percent of the IMRs involving compounded drugs, the UR physician’s modification or denial was upheld.

As in the prior studies, the latest results show that a small number of medical providers accounted for a disproportionate share of the disputed medical service requests. The 10 individual physicians who were named in the most IMR letters issued in the first quarter of 2016 were associated with 11 percent of the disputed medical service requests; while the top 1 percent of medical providers (56 individuals) were linked to 31 percent of the disputed services; and the 553 physicians who comprised the top 10 percent were involved in 76 percent of the disputed services that went through IMR.

Pacific Pain Care Office Manager Also Arrested and Faces 27 Years

The office manager, who worked with a Salinas doctor arrested and charged with 37 felonies in mid-May, is now facing 23 felonies of her own.

Maria “Aloha” Eclavea was arraigned this week on 23 felony insurance charges related to her role working with Dr. Steven Mangar in an alleged complex insurance fraud scheme, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

The charges against Mangar include submitting fraudulent health insurance claims and billings, furnishing drugs to an addict, unlawful prescription of medicine to patients who didn’t have the condition for which it was intended, and enhancements alleging Mangar’s conduct resulted in him fraudulently taking more than $500,000. The unlawful prescribing charges involve prescriptions Mangar wrote at Pacific Pain Care and include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, Dilaudid, and other highly addictive and dangerous medications.

Eclavea was the office manager of Pacific Pain Care Institute.The charges against Eclavea allege submitting fraudulent health insurance claims and billings. Her bail was set at $500,000 and, if convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 27 years in prison. Her preliminary hearing has been set for June 9.

Dr. Mangar was charged, arrested and arraigned in May for allegedly billing for services that he did not provide, knowingly providing false statements for his financial gain, prescribing controlled substances to an addict, and unlawfully prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mangar’s bail was set at $1 million, and a friend already bailed the doctor out of jail.

The Healthcare Fraud Unit of the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes prescription drug fraud by medical providers in Monterey County. The unit also investigates and prosecutes other cases including use of another’s identity to secure healthcare benefits, embezzlement. unlawful solicitations/referrals, fraudulent billing; inflated or falsified pharmacy billings, out-patient surgery center fraud, and fraudulent disability claims.

Any patient or insurance company that believes it may have been a victim of this fraud or criminal conduct is asked to contact the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office at (831) 883-7508.