Saturday, February 27, 2016

Texan Physician Pleads Guilty To Illegally Prescribing Pain Medication Norco After Search Warrant and Undercover Agent Visit.

The DEA and State Medical Boards are continuing to send in undercover agents to physicians to determine whether they are conducting physical examinations that comply with the standard of care before prescribing pain medications to patients. A recent Texan case illustrates how these undercover visits can result in a criminal prosecution.

On September 24, 2014, in Longview, Texas, a Board Certified Physical Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation, with over 15 years' experience in pain management, Dr. Sameer A. Fino evaluated an undercover law enforcement agent who was posing as a new patient.  During that visit, Dr. Fino did not perform any physical examination of the agent.  After meeting with the agent for approximately six minutes, Dr. Fino wrote the undercover agent a prescription for 60 units of Norco ® 10 mg, which is an opioid pain medication containing hydrocodone.  

The DEA targeted Dr. Fino due to his prescribing patterns and for other reasons. Search warrants by the DEA and Health and Human Services Agents were later executed on Dr. Fino's office and a pharmacy that was in the same building. At that point, he was the target of a criminal investigation. 

In order to resolve his criminal investigation and a related civil action, on February 17, 2016, Dr. Fino pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge John D. Love for dispensing controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

According to information presented in court, Dr. Fino, as the owner of the Fino Pain Clinic, provided pain management services to patients in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area and East Texas. As part of his plea agreement, Dr. Fino admitted that he knowingly and intentionally dispensed this controlled substance outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

In connection with his guilty plea, Dr. Fino has agreed to voluntarily surrender his DEA Certificate of Registration, thereby surrendering his privileges to prescribe controlled substances in the future. In a related civil action, Dr. Fino has agreed to forfeit $3,936,704.41 which were funds earned from his pain mangement clinic.  Dr. Fino faces up to ten years in federal prison.  No sentencing date has been set and Judge Love will determine the sentence.


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