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Appalachia, Virginia, physician, wife and employee face charges

Appalachia, Virginia, physician, wife and employee face charges

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An Appalachia, Virginia, physician, his wife and an employee have been indicted on dozens of charges related to drug distribution, obtaining drugs by fraud, prescription fraud and Medicaid fraud.

Dr. Michael B. Ford, of Big Stone Gap, operated the Appalachian Medical Clinic in Wise County and currently faces 124 charges. His wife, Una Faye Ford, faces 110 charges. She worked with her husband and assisted in the conspiracy, according to court records released Thursday.

Deborah Fugate, an employee, faces 24 charges related to Medicaid fraud and obtaining drugs by fraud, records state.

In March, local, state and federal law enforcement agents raided the clinic, where documentation and other evidence were obtained.

Agents executed search warrants at three locations in the Appalachia and Big Stone Gap areas on March 8.

At the time, officials declined to release any details about the ongoing investigation.

On Wednesday, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp took the evidence to a grand jury, which returned dozens of counts against the three individuals.

Dr. Ford presigned prescriptions for the use of his employees at the clinic, indictments state. His wife stored the presigned prescriptions in her desk for occasions when her husband wasn’t present, they state.

The crimes occurred over a period of time, according to the indictments.

One incident occurred on Nov. 21, 2017, when a patient, identified in an indictment as TM, visited the clinic.

The patient did not see the doctor during his appointment.

“Michael B. Ford was not present at his office during this time because he was on vacation in California,” an indictment for Medicaid fraud states. “Michael B. Ford willingly and willfully caused employees to record the visit as one in which the patient had been seen by a doctor, a false statement or representation of a material fact used in determining the right to receive a payment from Medicaid.”

The doctor “conspired” with employees to “falsely and fraudulently complete a prescription as though the doctor had approved it, which was a willfully false statement,” the indictments state.

A number of drugs, hydrocodone, Percocet and Ritalin, were distributed by the clinic. Indictments for Fugate, of Big Stone Gap, say she also obtained temazepam, Adderall and alprazolam.

The Virginia Department of Health Professionals previously disciplined Ford for improperly prescribing medications and not maintaining proper records. The board suspended his license for 90 days in 2012.

Ford received his initial license in 1970 and it remains active until May 31, 2020, according to records.

rsorrell@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2531 | Twitter: @RSorrellBHC | Facebook.com/robertsorrelltn

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