Former UPMC radiologist faces $1M fine, 20 years in prison for illegally distributing Vicodin

Former University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) radiologist Marios D. Papachristou waived indictment and pleaded guilty May 3 to federal charges of healthcare fraud and illegally distributing controlled substances to non-patients, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced.

Papachristou, 43, is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for unlawfully prescribing upwards of 3,600 Vicodin pills to friends and family members of himself and fellow UPMC radiologist Omar Almusa, who was indicted in April on 88 similar counts. The pair have also been accused of submitting fraudulent claims to UPMC Health Plan to cover the costs of the wrongfully prescribed drugs.

“Today’s guilty plea marks the first conviction in a case investigated by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that commit opioid-related healthcare fraud,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a DOJ release. “The data we are receiving provides important information about prescription opioids, prescribers and pharmacies that is being used to start or strengthen our investigations.”

In addition to the possible maximum sentence for dispensing Schedule II controlled substances, Papachristou faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for healthcare fraud. He’s slated to received his sentence in federal court Oct. 10 of this year.