The Justice Department’s new opioid fraud squad, Opioid and Abuse Detection Unit, has gotten its first indictment — a Pittsburgh-area physician who allegedly prescribed heavy-duty painkillers to patients and insisted on being paid in cash.
Andrzej Kazimierz Zielke was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on 14 counts of conspiracy and unlawfully distributing controlled substances, charges that could send the 62-year-old to prison for up to 20 years.
Zielke allegedly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine sulfate and methadone “not for medical purposes” at least 13 times and charged about $250 cash to patients who traveled for miles to his “holistic pain management practice” in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, according to the Department of Justice.
The Opioid and Abuse Detection Unit was unveiled by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August. It has dispatched teams of prosecutors to opioid-ravaged states like Pennsylvania and uses data to zero-in on doctors who prescribe large amounts of painkillers.