The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 10, 2006

Alva doctor pleads guilty in Medicare defraud case

An Alva doctor pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to defrauding Medicare.

A grand jury in Oklahoma City had indicted Dr. Gregory G. Pinegar, 42, in March for sending false bills to Medicare from Jan. 1, 2000, to May 5, 2005. According to the indictment, Pinegar billed Medicare for dosages of two drugs far in excess of his inventory. On Tuesday, Pinegar pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding information that makes substantially the same allegations as the indictment, said John C. Richter, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Pinegar faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution to Medicare. He also has agreed to forfeit $422,838.57 to the government and surrender his medical license immediately. Sentencing will take place in about three months.

The charges to which Pinegar pleaded guilty fo-cus on two prescription medications: Procrit and Remicade. Procrit is administered by injection and is primarily used to treat anemia in pa-tients with serious kidney disease as well as anemia caused by certain medications, such as some types of chemotherapy and medications to treat HIV. Remicade is administered by intravenous infusions and is primarily used to treat patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease or used to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in adults.

“Americans contribute their hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the Medicare program for free or below-cost health care benefits to certain individuals, primarily the elderly, blind, and disabled,” Richter said. “As he admitted (Tuesday), this physician instead used this government program for his own fraudulent gain and now will pay a steep price for it.”

In pleading guilty, Pinegar admitted when he or a nurse saw a patient, he or she would mark the amount of medication given on an office billing form. Before his office sent the billing information to Medicare, however, Pinegar would alter the billing forms to show either his office had administered Procrit or Remicade that was not actually administered or his office had administered Remicade in a quantity greater than actually administered.

Pinegar admitted from January 2000 through May 2005, he billed Medicare for approximately 19,750,000 units of Procrit, totaling $184,502.32, although his office actually had ordered no more than approximately 7,400,000 units. From January 2003 through May 2005, his office ordered no more than approximately 49,600 milligrams of Remicade but billed Medicare for approximately 112,110 milligrams, totaling $526,160.25.

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