Doctor, One of Top Prescribers of Opioids in Massachusetts, Is Sentenced

May 23, 2024

A Massachusetts orthopedic surgeon who prosecutors say was one of the top prescribers of opioid drugs in the state was sentenced in federal court in Boston for his role in a health care fraud scheme.

Dr. Olarewaju James Oladipo, of Canton, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs to 16 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.

In December 2023, Oladipo was convicted by a federal jury of 10 counts of health care fraud.

According to court documents, from approximately January 2016 through December 2019, Oladipo defrauded health care benefit programs by falsely billing for patient visits. Specifically, Oladipo used billing codes for more complex—and thus more expensive—services that were not provided. Oladipo falsified medical records of patient visits to reflect examinations and services that were not performed.

During the four-year period, Oladipo frequently billed for more than 60 patients per day and sometimes more than 100 patients per day. Prosecutors said the result was that many, if not most, of Oladipo’s patient visits on such days could have only lasted five minutes or less. However, Oladipo used billing codes that typically corresponded to visits of 15, 25, 30, or even 45 minutes.

Additionally, prosecutors say Oladipo ensured this high flow of patients to his practice by prescribing powerful, highly addictive opioids at a rate that made him one of the top prescribers of such drugs in Massachusetts. The evidence presented at trial showed that Oladipo knowingly prescribed oxycodone to patients suffering from opioid addiction, according to prosecutors.

The government’s evidence included testimony of Oladipo’s former patients, Oladipo’s former employees, representatives of insurance payors, law enforcement officers (including an undercover agent who posed as a patient), and two expert witnesses.

Oladipo attempted to have certain evidence suppressed claiming it was obtained through unlawful searches but the judge denied that motion. The judge also denied motions for acquittal and a directed verdict in his favor.

Born in Nigeria, Oladipo received his initial medical training there and then in 1988 began further training and practiced in the United Kingdom. He and his wife emigrated to Boston in 1994 and he began his work in the U.S. as a clinical fellow at Boston Medical Center.

In his sentencing memorandum, he stressed that his career was as a physician in public hospitals, community health centers, and prisons, serving marginalized patients who had poor access to specialists, delays in their diagnoses, and could be denied treatment by physicians.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Health and Human Services Inspector General; and the U.S. Postal Inspector General were involved in the prosecution. They received assistance from the Massachusetts Attorney General; National Insurance Crime Bureau; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Topics Massachusetts

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