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A Prince Frederick physician pleaded guilty last week to allegedly distributing prescription drugs and health care fraud.

On Friday, George Mathews, 76, of Prince Frederick pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for prescribing drugs without a medical exam and for filing fraudulent insurance claims that weren't rendered or medically necessary. As part of the plea agreement, Mathews will be sentenced to two years of probation with a condition requiring home detention for all two years, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. In addition, he agreed to forfeit $615,000, the release states.

Mathews had medical offices in Prince Frederick and Waldorf, where from January 2007 to July 2011, he wrote prescriptions for Schedule II Controlled Substances that he knew were without any legitimate medical purpose, according to the news release. Examples of Schedule II narcotics include hydromorphone, methadone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, opium and codeine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

In addition, Mathews prescribed such drugs knowing some of his patients were selling or abusing the drugs, according to court documents. Mathews also performed little or no medical examination before writing the prescription.

On April 13, 2011, according to court documents, an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration officer conducted an unscheduled walk-in visit at Mathews' Prince Frederick office equipped with a concealed recording device.

After paying a $120 visit fee to the receptionist, a nurse then brought Mathews to see the officer and presented Mathews with a blank prescription. Mathews filled in the type and quantity of drug (60 oxycodone pills) and told the officer that the prescription could only be filled at a particular pharmacy, according to court documents.

“At no time did Mathews or any member of his staff attempt to examine the [undercover officer], take his blood pressure, ask him to take a drug screening test, or perform any other routine medical testing,” according to court documents.

The total amount of Schedule II Controlled Substances Mathews allegedly distributed to the undercover officer during that visit without documented and demonstrated medical necessity, according to court documents, was the equivalent to at least 5 but less than 10 kilograms of marijuana.

According to court documents, during the same period from 2007 to 2011, Mathews billed the Department of Labor Office of Workers' Compensation Programs and other health care benefit programs for services that weren't rendered or not medically necessary.

Mathews billed all of his “repeat” patients to a particular medical code regardless of the actual content of the medical visit or exam, according to the news release. Most of Mathews' patients' repeat visits lasted no more than five minutes and involved no physical examination, the release states.

“Today's guilty plea serves as a warning to those who would defraud the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs by charging for medical services that were not rendered or medically necessary,” Bill Jones, special agent-in-charge of the Washington Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, said in the release.

As a result of the criminal conduct, Mathews received at least $615,000 from patients who received drugs without there being a medical necessity or from OWCP and other health care benefit programs for services that weren't rendered or necessary.

Mathews' sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 21 with Chief U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow.

ascott@somdnews.com