A Maui doctor pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to two counts of health care fraud and a third count involving the acquisition of a controlled substance via forgery in a scheme that dates back to 2014.

Licensed physician Mark Lipetz, owner and operator of South Maui Clinic, wrote multiple prescriptions for controlled substances for real patients, but ultimately gave them to different patients or created a “stockpile” of medications to use as samples for patients without prescriptions between 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In addition, between 2014 and 2018, Lipetz submitted more than 200 false claims for reimbursement to fraudulently obtain money from Medicare, Medicaid, Hawaii Medical Services Association, and United Healthcare, according to the justice department.

“Lipetz’s fraudulent behavior unlawfully steered precious funds towards his pockets and away from healthcare providers who serve the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Kenji Price, a U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii.

The case was investigated by the DEA and the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division.

Lipetz is one of several ongoing Drug Enforcement administration investigations in Hawaii, according to John Callery, the DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge. The investigations intend to “shield our communities from the dangers of the opioid crisis that is crippling portions of the mainland,” he said.

According to a DEA database made public by the Washington Post last week, more pain pills are distributed per capita on neighbor islands, especially Maui and the Big Island. More than 200 million prescription pain pills were supplied to Hawaii from 2006 to 2012, however, Hawaii has one of the lowest rates of overdose deaths involving opioids as well as one of the lowest rates of opioid prescriptions.

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