BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WHNT) – A federal judge sentenced a Tennessee physician and his wife on Monday for unlawfully distributing opioids and defrauding insurers through their now-shuttered Alabama clinics.
Mark Murphy, 65, and his wife, Jennifer, 65, both from Lewisburg, Tenn. were convicted of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, along with various substantive counts related to the same, and conspiring to defraud the United States and receiving kickbacks.
The Murphys were sentenced to twenty years each in prison
The Murphys owned and operated North Alabama Pain Services (NAPS). The couple closed both the Decatur and Madison offices in early 2017.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said over a five-year period before the clinics closed Murphy wrote prescriptions for more than ten million opioid pills, including millions of oxycodone 30 mg tablets. The Murphys also ordered tens of millions of dollars of unnecessary items and services that were paid for by taxpayer-funded and private insurance programs.
The DOJ said Murphys received kickbacks for those orders and prescriptions. In all, Medicare, TRICARE, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama were billed more than $280 million as a result of the fraud and kickback schemes and paid more than $50 million.
After Mark Murphy closed the Alabama clinics he continued to work from his Tennessee practice in Lewisburg which was raided by FBI agents in 2018 and was indicted in 2020 along with his wife and four other people.
“Dr. Murphy and his wife preyed on countless vulnerable patients and stole tens of millions of dollars from Medicare and other taxpayer-funded health insurance programs,” said U.S. Attorney Escalona in a statement. “Our office will continue to prosecute drug dealers and health care fraudsters to the full extent of the law.”
“The abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioids, is a serious problem in our communities,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Towanda Thorne-James. “All too often, this abuse leads to addiction, shattered lives, and even death. For the health and safety of our citizens, DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to target those who illegally distribute these potentially dangerous drugs. We hope that the sentences, in this case, serve as a reminder to anyone who might illegally divert pharmaceuticals that they will be held accountable for the harm they cause.”
“Mark and Jennifer Murphy learned today that unlawfully distributing controlled substances, committing health care fraud, and receiving kickbacks comes with hefty legal consequences,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “Their conviction today serves as a lesson to others who think no one is paying attention.”
Mark Murphy and Jennifer Murphy were each ordered to pay more than $50 million in restitution. Jennifer Murphy was also convicted of tax-related charges for underreporting clinic income.