Former WellSpan doctor indicted for writing fraudulent prescriptions for opioids

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HARRISBURG — A former doctor with WellSpan Health of York was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on charges of health care fraud and opioid diversion.

Charles J. Gartland, D.O., 59, allegedly defrauded two healthcare benefit programs — WellSpan Health and Medicare — by writing 221 prescriptions for Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and other controlled substances between September 2014 and August 2017, U.S. Attorney David J. Freed said in a release announcing the indictment.

The prescriptions were issued by Gartland under the names of three of his family members. Of the 221 prescriptions he wrote, 194 were for 17,187 Hydrocodone-Ibuprofen 7.5-200 mg pills, the indictment says. Those prescriptions were never intended for the medical care or treatment of the family members, but instead were intended for Dr. Gartland’s personal use, according to the indictment.

As such, the prescriptions were outside the scope of professional medical practice and were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose.

According to the indictment, Gartland allegedly filled the prescriptions at four pharmacies in York, Chester and Lancaster Counties. It’s alleged that Gartland deceived the pharmacies into giving him the pills by making them believe they were intended for his family members.

WellSpan and Medicare were allegedly defrauded when they paid claims submitted by the pharmacies for the prescriptions.

The indictment charges Gartland with 10 counts of health care fraud and 10 counts of obtaining controlled substances by deception.

Gartland surrendered to the U.S. Marshal Service Thursday and entered a not guilty plea before United States Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson. Judge Carlson ordered Gartland released pending trial under supervision by the U.S. Probation Office.

Trial was scheduled for February 5, 2018, before United States District Court Judge Yvette Kane.

The matter is being investigated by the Harrisburg Offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, and the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel is prosecuting the case.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

Each count of Health Care Fraud is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Each count of Obtaining Possession of a Controlled Substance by Deception is punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

A spokesperson for WellSpan Health issued the following statement about the indictment:

“Charles Gartland was an internal medicine physician with the WellSpan Medical Group from 2011 to 2017. In August, he was placed on leave based on concerns that he was writing prescriptions outside the scope of his practice with WellSpan. At that time, WellSpan immediately contacted law enforcement and other regulatory agencies, as required by law, and has cooperated fully with the subsequent investigation. On Nov. 17, Dr. Gartland was officially terminated as a WellSpan employee.”