Northern District of Alabama announces charges in health care fraud cases as part of nationwide law enforcement effort


Date: September 30, 2020


Birmingham, Ala. – Seven individuals have been charged in the Northern District of Alabama with a $41 million health care fraud, drug distribution, and kickback conspiracy run out of Northern Alabama Pain Specialists ("NAPS"), a clinic owned and operated by the husband and wife. The announcements are part of a federal law enforcement effort to crack down on health care fraud nationwide.

IRS-Criminal Investigations Atlanta Field Division Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey made the announcement.

A 25-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Mark Murphy of Lewisburg, TN, and his wife Jennifer Murphy of Lewisburg, TN, for conspiring to use their medical practice, NAPS, to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances, and indeed used controlled substances to grow and maintain a large patient population in order to profit from medically unnecessary services that Mark Murphy would order for those patients. Mark Murphy, Jennifer Murphy, Brian Bowman of Attalla, Ala., Christie Rollins aka Christie Schneid of Petersburg, TN, Mark Murphy, Jr. of Lewisburg, TN and Willie Frank Murphy of Lewisburg, TN, also conspired to and engaged in a scheme to pay and receive kickbacks and to defraud health care benefit programs out of at least $41,000,000 in payments for items and services that were medically unnecessary and, in some cases not provided.  Such items and services included:

  1. medical office visits, 
  2. durable medical equipment ("DME")
  3. urine drug screens ("UDS")
  4. high-reimbursing pharmaceuticals, and
  5. nerve conduction studies.

Finally, Jennifer Murphy used a purported charity to conceal receipt of illegal kickbacks and submitted false tax returns to conceal income received from the fraud.

A seventh co-conspirator, Sharon Lutrell of Lewisburg, TN, who is also part of this conspiracy, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to receive kickbacks. Lutrell has been charged separately by Information.

The announcements are part of a nationwide federal law enforcement effort to combat illegal prescription and/or distribution of opioids or that fall into more traditional categories of health care fraud include charges and guilty pleas involving more than 240 defendants who allegedly participated in schemes to submit more than $800 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and private insurance companies for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided. According to court documents, in many cases, patient recruiters, beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare. Also included are charges against medical professionals and others involved in the distribution of more than 30 million doses of opioids and other prescription narcotics.

IRS Criminal Investigation, FBI, HHS-OIG, and DEA investigated the case. Anthony J. Burba, Trial Attorney, DOJ Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chinelo Dike-Minor are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.