Washington, D.C. Doctor Indicted on Prescription Drug Distribution Charges
Alen Salerian Charged in 36-Count Indictment
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 25, 2013|
ABINGDON, VA—A Washington, D.C.-based doctor has been indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon on allegations of illegally distributing prescription drugs.
The grand jury has charged Alen Johannes Salerian, 65, of Bethesda, Maryland, in a 36-count indictment that was unsealed this afternoon following the defendant’s initial court appearance.
Salerian has been charged with one count of conspiring to distribute OxyContin, oxycodone, methadone, Opana ER, and fentanyl, all Schedule II controlled substances, without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice; and 35 counts of distributing OxyContin, oxycodone, and methadone, all Schedule II controlled substances, without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice.
According to the indictment, between 2001 and 2010, Salerian, a medical doctor, operated the Washington Center for Psychiatry in Washington D.C. In 2010, Salerian renamed his practice The Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain.
During the time relevant to this indictment, office fees for pain management patients at the Washington Center for Psychiatry and The Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain were increased so that pain management patients were charged higher fees for office visits than psychiatric patients. In 2009, according to the practice’s fee schedule, an “Initial Assessment” cost $290, and “Medication visits 10-15 minutes” cost $155. There was no separate cost listed for pain management patients. In 2010, according to the practice’s fee schedule, the fee for a new psychiatric patient visit was $295, “Medication Visits 10-15 minutes” cost $160, and psychotherapy visits lasting 25-30 minutes cost $260. All appointments for pain management patients in 2010 cost $350. In 2011, the fee for a new psychiatric patient visit was increased to $310 and subsequent office visits cost $170. A new patient visit for a pain management patient was increased in 2011 to $1000, and the “monthly fee” was increased to $370.
During times relevant to this indictment, pain management patients at the Washington Center for Psychiatry and The Salerian Center for Neuroscience and Pain were provided materials advising them monthly consultations were required, either in person or via telephone. Some patients were advised orally that every second, third, and fourth appointment could be conducted via telephone or via live Internet communication. Phone and Internet consultations were billed at the same rate as follow-up monthly office visits. Following a phone or Internet consultation, prescriptions were either available for pick-up at the Center or were sent to the patient or pharmacy.
The indictment alleges that between 2007 and April 5, 2012, Salerian distributed and dispensed, and caused the distribution and dispensing, of the prescription pain medications OxyContin, oxycodone, methadone, Opana ER, and fentanyl to pain management patients without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of medical practice.
If convicted, the maximum possibly penalty faced by the defendant for each count of conviction is up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General, the Office of Personnel Management-Office of the Inspector General, the Virginia State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst and Special Assistant United States Attorney Dennis Lee will prosecute the case for the United States.
A grand jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.