Elko cardiologist arrested on 39 counts of unlawful distribution, health care fraud
An Elko cardiologist was arrested on Tuesday on 39 counts of unlawful distribution of prescription opioids and Medicare and Medicaid fraud, federal prosecutors have announced.
Dr. Devendra I. Patel, aka Devendrakumar I. Patel, 58, is charged with 36 counts of distribution of controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and three counts of health care fraud.
Patel is a cardiologist at his medical practice Northeastern Nevada Cardiology in Elko.
The statutory maximum penalty for distribution of a controlled substance is 10 years in prison and the maximum penalty for health care fraud is 10 years in prison.
He had been booked into the Washoe County Detention Facility as of Monday afternoon, and he is scheduled to appear in federal court on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Reno.
Attorneys who represent Patel in an unrelated civil case didn't immediately respond to messages about the criminal pill mill charges.
Myhre says Patel is the first person charged in Nevada under a U.S. Justice Department effort announced in August that made the state one of 12 with a federal prosecutor focused specifically on opioid fraud and abuse.
"Dr. Patel is the first person to be charged in Nevada since the formation of the Justice Department’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit," said Acting U.S. Attorney Myhre. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to turning the tide of the prescription opioid epidemic that is plaguing our communities. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who contribute to this scourge."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.