“It’s imperative that California investigates those in the medical professional who put our communities at risk by illegally prescribing powerful drugs that end up on our streets and in our neighborhoods.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
OAKLAND – On August 18, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the sentencing of a Southern California doctor for an illegal prescription scheme that defrauded the state Medi-Cal program of over $20 million.
El-Nachef, M.D., was sentenced to five years in jail after entering a plea of guilty for prescribing medically unnecessary HIV medications, anti-psychotics, and opioids to more than a thousand Medi-Cal beneficiaries in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. As part of his sentence, El-Nachef also paid $2.3 million in restitution and surrendered his medical license. The prosecution in this case was carried out by the California Department of Justice’s Division of Medical Fraud and Elder Abuse (DMFEA).
“El-Nachef’s deceitful actions endangered the people of Southern California by fueling the illicit drug market in their communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Not only did he harm public safety, he wasted millions in valuable taxpayer funds and defrauded a healthcare system that protects California’s most vulnerable residents. Today’s sentence holds El-Nachef to account and sends a strong message: The California Department of Justice is committed to safeguarding California’s communities and public programs, and will not tolerate crimes against them.”
El-Nachef served as the prescriber at two clinics — one in Anaheim and the other in Los Angeles — and carried out the prescription scheme from June 2014 to April 2016. In exchange for cash payments, he prescribed expensive medications to Medi-Cal beneficiaries who had no medical need for them. The medications were not kept or used by the beneficiaries, but were instead diverted to the illicit market for cash. In September 2022, El-Nachef pled guilty in the Orange County Superior Court to one count of insurance fraud and one count of aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of medicine. He will serve his five-year sentence split, with two years in the Orange County Jail and three years on mandatory supervision.
DMFEA protects Californians by investigating and prosecuting those who defraud the Medi-Cal program as well as those who commit elder abuse. These settlements are made possible only through the coordination and collaboration of governmental agencies, as well as the critical help from whistleblowers who report incidences of abuse or Medi-Cal fraud at oag.ca.gov/dmfea/reporting
A copy of the plea agreement is available here.