Physician gets probation, forfeiting $10,000 in drug scheme

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May 25—A suboxone clinic physician convicted of unlawfully prescribing the drug before the Bedford Street business was busted in 2018 received two years probation on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh imposed the sentence on former SKS Inc. physician Ruth Jones, 58, of Bedford.

The conviction also includes a $5,500 fine for unlawfully prescribing "buprenorphine and committing health care fraud," Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said in a release to media.

According to information presented to the court, Jones was employed at SKS Inc., a buprenorphine clinic located on Bedford Street in Stonycreek Township.

During the course her employment, Jones prescribed the drug "outside the course of accepted medical practice and not for a legitimate medical reason," prosecutors said.

The health-care fraud occurred when a patient's insurance provided payment for the prescription. Under federal law, medical insurance cannot be used to pay for an unlawfully issued prescription.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Jones agreed to forfeit $10,000.

The clinic's Washington County owner and operator, Stephen Shaner, 71, received three years probation and is forfeiting $1.75 million for his role in the scheme, which included a guilty plea to money laundering.

The investigation leading to the filing of charges in this case was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. Led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office, combines the expertise and resources of federal and state law enforcement to address the role played by unethical medical professionals in the opioid epidemic.

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