Centreville The owner and president of a pain clinic in Chantilly was convicted Friday, Aug. 3, in Federal Court of conspiring to distribute and actually distributing oxycodone, a controlled drug. Paul Photiadis Boccone, 56, was also found guilty of healthcare fraud and payroll tax evasion in connection with Chantilly Specialists Ltd. pain clinic.
In addition, a nurse practitioner with the clinic, Charles Brown Jr., 51, was convicted of the same two narcotics charges. When they’re sentenced this fall, Boccone could receive as much as 350 years in prison, and Brown, 160 years.
A business description of the clinic on the ezlocal.com Web site states, “It is the mission of Chantilly Specialists Ltd. of Virginia to deliver meaningful and effective treatment to its patients who are suffering with chronic pain … Simply put, it is our mission to do good medicine.”
Over one year, they prescribed more than 800,000 oxycodone-based narcotic pills to approximately 600 people.
— Grand jury indictment
But in reality, said prosecutors, although Boccone prescribed medication — and sometimes referred to himself as a doctor — he didn’t have a medical license. And evidence confirmed that, during the course of the conspiracy, at least four of the clinic’s patients died of overdoses related to the drugs they’d received there.
Opened in 2005, the clinic was originally on Parke Long Court before relocating, around January 2011, to 4200 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite R. However, a notice on its Web site advises that, effective March 16, Chantilly Specialists Ltd. “is no longer seeing patients.”
According to court records and evidence at trial, even though Boccone wasn’t a trained or licensed medical practitioner, he treated patients and prescribed narcotics by either forging the signatures of medical practitioners or encouraging medical practitioners to endorse prescriptions that he wrote.
Brown was the lead nurse practitioner there, and prosecutors said he helped Boccone by continuing to prescribe large amounts of narcotics to patients without medical need for them.
The case against the two men was detailed in the 36-page indictment filed Dec. 22, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. A federal grand jury indicted Boccone on 28 criminal counts, and Brown — also known as Charles Conway — on four counts. The document stated the illegal activities occurred over a six-year period from Dec. 22, 2005 until the indictment date.
Boccone ran the clinic’s daily operations, hired and directed employees, approved payments from the company, signed payroll checks and made financial decisions on behalf of the company. But that’s not all he did, said prosecutors.
The indictment states that he told the medical providers at Chantilly Specialists that “customers were to be provided with Schedule II narcotic pain medication, sometimes in direct contrast with the medical provider’s clinical opinion.” Schedule II drugs have a high risk of being abused by their users, which may in turn lead to severe, psychological or physical dependence.
Under Boccone’s control, Brown “continued to prescribe excessive amounts of controlled substances,” even after patients had overdosed and died.
— Grand jury indictment
People would often travel long distances — in some cases more than 350 miles one way, or a round trip of more than 12 hours — to be treated for reported severe pain. But according to the indictment, “Chantilly Specialists would ‘examine’ 25 or more patients per provider per day. [However], each of these customers would receive only cursory examinations prior to being prescribed Schedule II narcotics. [At] one point, egg timers were utilized to ensure no patient was with a provider longer than 20 minutes.”
Making matters worse, the document states that “Medical providers at Chantilly Specialists, including Brown, provided large amounts of prescription medication to customers they knew to be drug addicts — including patients who were not examined in person prior to issuance of the prescriptions.”
It stated that Boccone would intercede on behalf of customers and “would coerce or threaten medical providers who did not prescribe the desired medication … He also would sign [a particular] supervising physician’s name on prescriptions.” In addition, existing patients were encouraged by Boccone to solicit new ones to the practice, regardless of their medical requirements.
According to the indictment, in a one-year period, under Boccone’s direction, Brown prescribed “over 800,000 oxycodone-based narcotic pills to approximately 600 customers. [One particular] customer was prescribed [some] 14,400 oxycodone-based pills.”
The document further states that under Boccone’s control, Brown “continued to prescribe excessive amounts of controlled substances, knowing that these distributions [had] resulted in numerous overdoses and, in some cases, deaths to customers.” Three men and one woman died Oct. 3, 2009, April 7, 2010, and Feb. 1 and March 4, 2011.
Adding to the conspiracy, the indictment notes that, at Boccone’s direction, Brown “altered at least one customer’s file after Chantilly Specialists learned of his death. [And] Boccone, under subpoena to produce certain customer files, altered those files.” Prosecutors also say the two men and others “obtained substantial income and resources from their illegal distribution of controlled substances.”
Regarding the healthcare fraud, to submit claims to Medicare for services rendered, a physician is required to enroll with Medicare and obtain and register his or her individual Medicare Provider Number. But although the clinic treated patients on Medicare and submitted claims for their services, Boccone never obtained a provider number.
As for payroll tax evasion, the indictment stated that from Jan. 1, 2006 until Dec. 31, 2008, Boccone “did willfully fail to truthfully account for and pay over to the Internal Revenue Service all of the federal income taxes and FICA taxes” he’d withheld from his employees’ paychecks.
Following Boccone’s and Brown’s convictions, last Friday, Aug. 3, U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton set their sentencing for Nov. 9. The case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office; IRS; Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General and Fairfax County Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Virginia Assistant Attorney General Marc J. Birnbaum are prosecuting the case. Ben’Ary is a former Fairfax County assistant commonwealth’s attorney.