The Boston Herald
‘Drug pusher’ doctor to be sentenced in Medicaid fraud
By PAUL SULLIVAN
December 2, 1997
A Leominster psychiatrist, who once introduced himself as “your neighborhood drug pusher,” will be sentenced in court tomorrow in connection with Medicaid fraud.
“What he did was prescribe addictive drugs to drug addicts,” said Peter Clark, who prosecuted the case for the Medicaid Fraud Unit of the office of the state attorney general. “He’d prescribe on the first visit and every subsequent visit. With a couple of exceptions these people never left without a prescription in their pockets,” Clark said.
The psychiatrist, Albert Pike, 49, was accused of running a pill mill and was convicted on 43 counts of illegally prescribing methadone and Valium-like tranquilizers for his patients.
He also is charged with Medicaid fraud as he was billing that agency for the patient visits.
Nick Messuri, chief of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud unit, said at Pike’s peak during a two-year period between 1993 and 1995, he was billing Medicaid $ 20,000 a month. But Messuri added not all of the billing was bogus.
Messuri said Pike had 400 patients during this period but investigators only looked at 120 patients and convicted him in the cases of 10 patients.
Pike was convicted in October after a three-week trial in Worcester Superior Court and faces a long prison sentence.
During his trial, Messuri said one witness testified that Pike said he was “your neighborhood drug pusher.”
Messuri said Pike apparently depended on word of mouth among drug addicts for his business and some of his clients came from outside the Leominster area.
“People who are really in search of illegal drugs would seek him out,” Messuri said.
Pike previously worked as a staff psychiatrist for the state Department of Correction.
Messuri said Pike precribed methadone to heroin addicts as well as tranquilizer drugs such as Xanax, Valium and Klonopin, “which would replace the high when a drug user was unable to satisfy his drug addiction.”
Methadone is a substance often used to help heroin addicts kick the habit. But methadone may be used only in an approved program and it must be swallowed where it is given out, authorities said.
He continued, “People would come in for treatment and he’d meet with them, listen to their problems and on almost each occasion he would provide them with a prescription.
“Pike would also often write new prescriptions when patients would say they lost the original prescription or ‘My girlfriend threw it away by mistake,’ ” Messuri said.
Pike wrote his prescriptions without conducting a physical exam or monitoring their blood pressure,” Messuri said.