A Palmetto physician and his business partner were sentenced to federal prison today for for conspiring to defraud Medicare and for illegally prescribing Oxycodone, morphine and other drugs.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedlander, 50, was sentenced to 9 years in prison, and his business partner, physician assistant Troy Wubbena was sentenced to 10 years. The court also ordered them to repay more than $317,000 that they received as a result of their illegal activities and for them to give up their medical licenses.
Wubben in August had been sentenced to 10 years for a related Oxycodone trafficking case. His sentences will be served concurrently, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
According to court documents, Friedlander was a physician licensed to practice medicine in Florida in the areas of internal medicine, neurology, pain management and vascular and interventional radiology. He practiced primarily out of a medical business known as " Neurology and Pain Center," (NPC) with clinics located in Tampa, Sarasota, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, and Orlando.
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According to court documents, during the course of the operation of the NPC, Friedlander had allowed the prescribing of controlled substances to patients by unauthorized employees, including Wubbena, without his presence, participation and adequate supervision. They would use blank prescription forms pre-signed by Friedlander, according to a news release.
Many of these prescriptions were issued for controlled substances to patients without conducting adequate physical exams, making proper diagnosis or considering alternative treatment options. The defendants know that the patients were misusing or abusing the controlled substances. This practice of illegally prescribing controlled substances was confirmed through the use of undercover detectives of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office who posed as patients. The agents visited Neurology and PainCenter clinics on six occasions, according to the news release.
Court documents also state that between 2005 and March of 2009, Friedlander and Wubbena filed false claims to Medicare for reimbursement for services that had not been performed. As part of thescheme, Friedlander and Wubbena entered false information in patient files to create false documentation to support the claims submitted to Medicare, according to the news release.
Friedlander and Wubbena were arrested in April 2009.