Akron Doctor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Painkillers
An Akron physician pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing hundreds of thousands of doses of painkillers and other pills to customers for no legitimate medical purpose, even after he learned some customers had died from overdose-related deaths, law enforcement officials said.
Adolph Harper, Jr., 64, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic drugs, four counts of health care fraud and 16 counts of drug trafficking. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27.
Also today, Patricia Laughman, 52, of Barberton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic drugs and 14 counts of drug trafficking, while Adria Harper, 35, of Akron, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic drugs and 25 counts of drug trafficking.
Tequilla Berry, 35, of Akron, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy to traffic drugs and seven counts of drug trafficking.
Together, they distributed hundreds of thousands of doses of prescription medications—including Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicet, Opana, and others—from Adolph Harper’s medical officers in Akron between 2009 and 2012, according to court documents.
“Doctor Harper is simply a drug dealer who happened to wear a white coat and worked from a medical office instead of a street corner,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “His actions destroyed lives and families.”
Steven D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland office, said: “Just because you have a prescription pad does not give you a license to deal drugs. Not only did this doctor violate the physician’s oath but he also allowed others in his office to abuse his medical privileges.”
All four defendants conspired to distribute addictive controlled substances, including prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety medication, outside the usual course of professional practice and without any legitimate medical purpose, according to court documents.
Adolph Harper’s customers, many of whom were drug addicts exhibiting clear signs of drug addiction during their visits to his office, came to his office and received “prescriptions” for addictive prescription medications without being examined by Harper and often without seeing him at all, according to the court documents.
Harper continued to distribute prescriptions for controlled substances after he learned that some of his customers had died from overdose-related deaths, according to the court documents.
Adria Harper, Laughman and Berry distributed prescriptions to these customers when Adolph Harper was out of the office and also used Adolph Harper’s prescription pad to distribute prescriptions for addictive painkillers to themselves, according to the court documents.
Additionally, Adolph Harper executed four separate schemes to defraud health insurance providers by (1) submitting insurance claims for services using a higher billing code than the service justified; (2) submitting insurance claims for unperformed services; (3) billing an insurance provider for a service after collecting a cash payment for the same service; and (4) causing the submission of insurance claims for prescriptions for controlled substances that were issued outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, according to court documents.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret A. Sweeney, Edward F. Feran, and Rebecca C. Lutzko following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of the Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Akron Police Department.