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False scripts, bills send doctor to prison

Dr. Frank Purpera

By MELINDA WILLIAMS
melinda@southwesttimes.com

ROANOKE — A Blacksburg vascular surgeon convicted of issuing fraudulent prescriptions and bills will serve 90 months (7.5 years) in federal prison, according to federal authorities.

In January, a federal jury convicted Dr. Frank Purpera Jr. of 56 counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances, two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

Purpera, 45, is the former owner of Virginia Vein Institute on South Main Street in Blacksburg.

In addition to his prison sentence, Purpera also is required to pay more than $2.3 million restitution to Medicare, Virginia Medicaid and Anthem Insurance for fraudulent billing.

According to a press release from Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, an investigation showed Purpera wrote numerous prescriptions for the controlled substances Adderall, a stimulant, and Percocet, an opioid, over a period of about five years. The scripts were written in the name of Purpera’s wife, who had a different last name, and “were not for legitimate medical purposes and were outside the scope of Purpera’s medical practice.”

The probe also determined Purpera falsified medical records and issued millions of dollars in fraudulent bills to Anthem and the Medicare/Medicaid program.

According to the press release, the doctor obstructed justice by telling employees to respond, “I don’t recall” to questions posed by federal investigators executed a search warrant a Virginia Vein Institute in September 2016.

“To reiterate this point, Purpera showed an employee a video clip from the popular movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ in which numerous employees, when interviewed by federal law enforcement, say ‘I don’t recall, I don’t recall,’” according to the press release.

Bubar said of the case, “Dr. Purpera violated the trust placed in him when he illegally prescribed powerful narcotics and defrauded important health care programs, depriving Virginians of necessary funding.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring added, “Doctors and other healthcare providers who defraud our healthcare system and use their position to illegally distribute controlled substances not only waste taxpayer money but also put their communities in danger.”

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