Mich. doctor & ‘patient recruiters’ busted in prescription drug fraud scheme

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A doctor in Livonia, Michigan — along with several of his employees — has been charged in what prosecutors call “a large-scale drug diversion scheme” involving dangerous prescription medications.

Dr. Zongli Chang, M.D. was named along with seven “patient recruiters” in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. (SEE FULL INDICTMENT BELOW.)

The indictment alleges that from January 2012 to May of 2017, which was when the State of Michigan revoked Chang’s medical license, Chang and his co-conspirators engaged in a large-scale scheme in which Chang wrote prescriptions for highly-addictive drugs in return for cash payments.

According to a Department of Justice report, “Chang commonly wrote prescriptions for controlled substances, to include Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, Oxycodone HCl, Alprazolam, Carisoprodol and Promethazine/codeine syrup.

The indictment says that Chang prescribed more than 2,700,000 dosage units of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances during the course of the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value in excess of $18,000,000. Agents seized more than $600,000 in cash during a search of Chang’s Novi home.

Chang relied upon “patient recruiters” to bring “fake patients” to his office. These recruiters paid cash to acquaintances to act as though they were Chang’s patients. The recruiters paid Chang cash at each office visit for the prescriptions provided.

The recruiters also paid cash to the “fake patients” for appearing for the medical visits. After a cursory examination or no examination at all, Chang always prescribed the requested drugs. Chang’s employees brought numerous fake patients to his office and ultimately took control of the drugs prescribed by Chang. They went on to sell the opioids illegally in Michigan and elsewhere.

Charged in the indictment are:

  • Zongli Chang, 52, of Novi
  • Darryl Parker, 56, of Detroit
  • Tye Chandler, 26, of Detroit
  • Karen Hall, 57, of Detroit
  • Deangelo Givhan, 28, of Detroit
  • Yolanda Cannon, 39, of Detroit
  • Melvin McGuire, 48, of Detroit
  • Khary Tremble, 44, of Detroit

In addition to the drug diversion charges, Chang faces three counts of health care fraud for billing Medicare for services not provided. The indictment further seeks to forfeit all proceeds of Chang’s illegal activity, including $603,136 in cash seized from his home.

United States Attorney Schneider stated, “Our office has no tolerance for corrupt doctors who are making Michigan’s opioid crisis even worse by unnecessarily prescribing drugs. We will vigorously prosecute those who spread these poisons on our streets.”

The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the twelve districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit that uses data to target and prosecute individuals contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. Chang’s suspicious patterns of prescriptions were flagged thanks to data analysis by the Department of Justice initiative created by Attorney General Sessions.

Special Agent Lamont Pugh III said, “The OIG has made the opioid crisis one of its’ top priorities and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to help protect Medicare beneficiaries and the public as a whole from prescription drug abuse.”

 

Chang Indictment Filed Copy by Anonymous ctbuT4Ge on Scribd

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