Niles osteopath faces 52 federal charges of health care fraud and drug law violations
An osteopathic doctor whose Niles office was raided by the FBI nearly a year ago faces 52 charges accusing him of health care fraud and violating federal laws regulating the dispensing of and distribution of controlled substances.
Sutton’s Internal and Physical Medicine Clinic at 1250 Youngstown Warren Road was closed in January of last year following the FBI search.
According to a document filed in U.S. District Court, between January 2015 and January of last year, Sutton prescribed medically unnecessary controlled substances and billed health care programs for those drugs as well as the office visits.
Providing information about seven of Sutton’s patients, investigators allege that the doctor prescribed opioid medications for an extended period, including for more than a decade, despite knowing the drug therapy had failed.
According to the government, Sutton ignored patients' requests to lower their dosages, prescribing controlled substances in support of ongoing addiction rather than the legitimate treatment of chronic pain.
Sutton also is accused of engaging in sex acts with three patients during office visits and outside the office, including distributing drugs without a valid prescription to patients with whom he had sexual relationships in his office, and outside the office.
In addition, the U.S. Attorney claims Sutton prescribed short-acting opioid medications for extended periods without establishing objective diagnoses for pain relying only on what the government characterized as patients' "vague and subjective claims of pain".
Sutton allegedly escalated the daily dosage of opioids to "extreme levels", sometimes prescribing opioids for extended periods of time despite recognized mental illness diagnoses and concerns that long-term opioid therapy tend to worsen depression, anxiety, insomnia, and induce panic attacks.
Investigators say Sutton ignored documented behavioral observations that indicated patients were abusing or diverting prescriptions or abusing non-prescribed controlled substances.
The U.S. Attorney filed the charges Monday in the form of an information, which offers Dr. Jeffrey Sutton the opportunity to be prosecuted without going through the customary process of being indicted by a grand jury.
The first 32 counts against Sutton allege violation of federal law regulating the dispensing and distribution of controlled substances. Counts 33 through 52 allege health care fraud.
Last February, Sutton voluntarily surrendered his Drug Enforcement Agency Certificate which allowed him to dispense controlled substances.
In September, the Ohio Medical Board informed Sutton that it intends to determine whether to limit, revoke, or suspend his license, to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery, or reprimand him or place him on probation.