Tennessee doctor charged with 'massive opioid fraud distribution and healthcare fraud scheme'

PHOTO: Dr. Samson OrusaPlayThe Leaf-Chronicle via USA Today Network, FILE
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A Tennessee doctor has been charged in connection with "a massive opioid distribution and healthcare fraud scheme," authorities said, accusing him of preying "upon an already addicted population" and engaging in "reckless disregard for patient safety."

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Dr. Samson Orusa was charged in an indictment unsealed Thursday with "maintaining a drug-involved premises, 22 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the bounds of professional medical practice, 13 counts of healthcare fraud; and nine counts of money laundering."

If found guilty, Orusa could face up to 20 years in prison for each drug-related count and up to 10 years for healthcare and money laundering counts.

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Dan Cochran alleges that Orusa opened up his practice with the purpose of distributing controlled substances such as oxycodone "not for legitimate medical purposes and beyond the bounds of medical practice," the indictment reads.

“Anyone who contributes to the opioid epidemic plaguing this nation should expect to be targeted by our law enforcement partners and held accountable,” Cohran said.

The indictment alleges that in 2015 Orusa prescribed what is known as "The Holy Trinity" of drugs which contains oxymorphone, Soma which is a muscle relaxer and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug. The combination is potentially dangerous and, in fact, according to the indictment, the patient who took the combination of drugs overdosed as a result.

The indictment alleges another patient overdosed on heroin in the waiting room of the doctor's office after being prescribed oxycodone and other "Schedule II drugs" which have a high potential for abuse. Orusa wrote almost 2,500 prescriptions for Schedule II drugs between July and August 2018, authorities said.

The pattern was so bad, they said, that on the same day this past September that the state of Tennessee revoked his pain management certificate, Orusa wrote 12,754 Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions.

The government also alleges that Orusa defrauded health insurance benefit providers such as Medicare and that he transferred money to disguise "the nature of the unlawful activity."

“The arrest of Dr. Orusa should serve as a warning to all doctors who fail to practice medicine in an ethical and responsible manner,” Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Louisville Field Division, which oversees DEA activity throughout Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, said in a statement.

“The men and women of DEA are committed to using every available resource to stop the flow of drugs into our communities, especially when the drug dealer is a physician.”

Orusa has not responded to ABC News' request for comment.