SAN FRANCISCO – On February 27, 2020, a federal grand jury indictment was filed, charging licensed physician Timothy Mulligan, 67, of Santa Clara, with the unlawful distribution of opioids, including fentanyl, outside the scope of professional practice and health care fraud.
According to the indictment, Mulligan’s medical practice is in San Mateo County and a substantial part of it involved providing prescriptions for controlled substances—primarily opioids. As alleged in the indictment, Mulligan issued an unusually high volume of prescriptions for potent opioids, including fentanyl. For example, according to a state government database, from about August 2014 through June 2018, Mulligan issued more than 9,000 prescriptions for opioids (totaling more than 700,000 dosage units) to more than 250 patients. Overall, Mulligan predominantly prescribed the strongest strength dosages when prescribing fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. In certain instances, Mulligan allegedly issued opioid prescriptions in quantities that significantly exceeded generally accepted daily quantities for the drug. The indictment states that because of the unusual pattern and volume of prescriptions issued by Mulligan and other warning signs, certain pharmacies declined to fill prescriptions issued by Mulligan or restricted the types of Mulligan’s prescriptions that they would fill.
As further alleged in the indictment, some individuals who obtained medically unnecessary prescriptions from Mulligan used private insurance or Medi-Cal to cover their office visits or pay for the drugs; others paid with cash. As alleged in the indictment, the insurance companies and Medi-Cal would not have paid for the office visits or paid out the pharmacy claims had they known the prescriptions were not medically necessary or were over-prescribed.
The indictment charges Mulligan with three counts of distributing controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice, and two counts of health care fraud.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, and a life term of supervised release for each count of distributing controlled substances; and 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release for each count of health care fraud.
This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA with assistance from the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Health Care Services.
“Combining the investigative efforts of local, state and federal agencies proved successful in acquiring this indictment,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Law enforcement must continue to investigate medical professionals who do wrong by prescribing powerful, addictive pain relievers for no medical purpose.”