HARRISBURG – A Westmoreland County doctor was charged by the Attorney General’s Office with illegally distributing pre scri ption drugs and selling pre scri ptions in exchange for cash.
Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendant as Dr. Antoine Cawog, 62, Greensburg. Cawog practiced medicine in Irwin, Westmoreland County.
Corbett noted that the IRS also filed charges today against Cawog for income tax evasion. The charges are being brought simultaneously because of concerns that Cawog may flee the country.
According to the criminal complaint, an undercover agent posed as a patient during 10 undercover visits at Cawog’s medical office. During each undercover visit, Cawog prescribed unnecessary pre scri ptions without completing a patient history, physical, review of past medical records or diagnostic tests.
Corbett said that during each visit the agent noted the absence of scales and blood pressure cuffs in the exam rooms. Additionally, during the visits the agent’s prior medical history, height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and other symptoms were not checked by either Cawog or a member of his medical staff.
The charges state that after each of the first six visits, Cawog requested a $60 cash payment in the exam room. After each of the last four visits, Cawog allegedly doubled the amount to $120 and provided the undercover agent with a pre scri ption for twice the amount of Vicodin as previously prescribed.
As the investigation progressed, agents learned that Cawog was allegedly sending pre scri ptions for controlled substances through the mail to a patient in exchange for money orders.
According to the criminal complaint, a patient who sent a money order for $110 received a pre scri ption for 60 Vicodin tablets in the mail and a $55 payment or office visit “fee” constituted a pre scri ption for 30 Vicodin tablets.
Corbett said that Greensburg and State Police also solicited the help of a confidential informant, who purchased Lorcet, Xanax and Vicodin pre scri ptions at a Sunoco gas station, Shop-N-Save parking lot, Boston Market, his home residence and the lobby of Westmoreland Hospital.
Agents estimate that a total of 15 pre scri ptions for more than 800 pills were sold to the confidential informant for an estimated $960.
Corbett noted that the informant and undercover police officers also performed work at Cawog’s home in exchange for pre scri ptions.
“Doctors are aware of the highly addictive qualities that many pre scri ption medications can have, yet we continue to investigate cases of doctors selling and abusing pre scri ption drugs,” Corbett said.
Cawog is charged with 24 counts of violations of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, each count is an ungraded felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Additionally, Cawog is charged with 10 counts of criminal attempt to commit Medicaid fraud, each count is a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Cawog was taken into custody this afternoon by Federal IRS agents.
Corbett thanked the Pennsylvania State Police, the Greensburg Police Department, the DEA and the IRS for their assistance with the case.
The case will be prosecuted in Westmoreland County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Baxter of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section.