A McMurray doctor who was accused of illegally prescribing narcotics and who pleaded guilty in May to health care fraud and all related charges, was sentenced on Monday morning to more than 11 years in prison.
Dr. Oliver W. Herndon was sentenced in federal court to 135 months—11 years and 3 months—which is to be followed by three years of supervised release, on his convictions for health care fraud and violating federal narcotics laws, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton announced on Monday through a news release.
U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab imposed the sentence on Herndon, 40, of 311 Braeburn Dr. in Peters Township.
Herndon had a medical office in Peters that was searched by federal agents on Feb. 14, 2012, according to the news release. Herndon had relocated his office from 500 Lewis Run Rd. in Pleasant Hills Borough to 1000 Waterdam Plaza in Peters only two weeks prior to the search.
Herndon had appeared before Schwab in federal district court in May, when his attorney—Roger Cox—and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representatives, including assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Kaufman, were present to relay his summary of offenses.
Herndon, a 1996 graduate of the Stanford University School of Medicine, and the parties reached a plea agreement.
Schwab said that the maximum sentence could be 30 years in prison, a $1-million fine and mandatory restitution payments. The agreement states that the doctor would have to acknowledge his responsibility to the remaining counts and provide his income, assets and financial statements, as well as pay a $200 special assessment fee.
However, Kaufman suggested the sentence of 135 months.
At that hearing, Kaufman summarized events observed by the DEA in the past year, including undercover detectives who were prescribed high doses of narcotics by Herndon.
Kaufman said that Herndon prescribed 10,800 tablets of 30-milligram oxycodone and 3,600 tablets of 30-milligram oxymorphone, resulting in a cost to insurance companies of between $400,000 and $1 million.
Out of 128 pharmacies in western Pennsylvania, 87 refused to fill the doctor's prescriptions. And one in Pittsburgh's Troy Hill neighborhood had a sign in its window stating that it would not fill prescriptions prescribed by Herndon.
Kaufman said that Herndon's waiting rooms were always full and that he saw 80 to 120 patients per day on average.
According to Kaufman, many of Herndon's patients were in their 20s and 30s and generally seemed "strung out or stoned."
A Pittsburgh detective, who went undercover as a patient, paid $200 in cash for an appointment with Herndon in November 2011, Kaufman said.
The detective's appointment lasted 3 minutes and 10 seconds, and no physical exams were given nor were tests ordered.
According to the detective, Herndon said to her, "As long as you're cool as a cucumber, you can get your meds from me."
Said Hickton in Monday's news release, "We continue to make addressing the problem of prescription drug abuse one of our highest priorities by targeting the illegal supply chain at every level, from legitimate medical providers to illegal traffickers. Western Pennsylvania law enforcement is committed to identifying, investigating and vigorously prosecuting these criminals who prey upon the addicted and threaten the safety of our communities."
This article originally appeared on the Peters Patch.
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