Blacksburg doctor sentenced on healthcare fraud, distribution, obstruction charges

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Frank Purpera Jr., the former owner of the Virginia Vein Institute, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to 90 months in federal prison.

Purpera had been convicted by a jury in January of illegally distributing controlled substances, healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and obstruction of justice.

Purpera, 45, of Blacksburg, was convicted on 56 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

“Dr. Purpera violated the trust placed in him when he illegally prescribed powerful narcotics and defrauded important healthcare programs depriving Virginians of necessary funding,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar said. “Today’s significant sentence is the product of years of work by an incredible group of our state and federal partners—the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Doctors and other healthcare providers who defraud our healthcare system and use their position to illegally distribute controlled substances not only waste taxpayer money but also put their communities in danger,” Attorney General Mark Herring said. “I want to thank both our state and federal partners for their hard work on this case and continued collaboration on similar important cases.”

“Dr. Purpera placed his interests above those of the taxpayers and the patients he served. In the process, he compromised his integrity and violated the Hippocratic Oath,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “We will continue to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to protect our health programs and bring criminals to justice.”

Evidence presented at trial established that Purpera, for a period of approximately five years, wrote numerous prescriptions for Percocet, and Adderall, both Schedule II controlled substances, in the name of his wife, who had a different last name, on multiple occasions. The prescriptions were not for legitimate medical purposes and were outside the scope of Purpera’s medical practice.

In addition, the defendant falsified his medical records and sent millions of dollars in fraudulent bills to Medicare, Virginia Medicaid, and Anthem Insurance. The court ordered Purpera to pay over $2.3 million in restitution.

After a search warrant was executed at the Virginia Vein Institution in September 2016, Purpera told his employees to say, “I don’t recall” when questioned by federal investigators. To reiterate this point, Purpera showed an employee a video clip from the popular movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which numerous employees, when interviewed by federal law enforcement, say “I don’t recall, I don’t recall.”

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