Southern California Doctor Pleads Guilty to $20M in Medicare Fraud

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s Office released a statement on Wednesday detailing a guilty plea they had secured against a doctor who illegally prescribed opioids, anti-psychotics, and more to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, defrauding the program of more than $20 million.

Mohammed El-Nachef, M.D., was reportedly the subject of the investigation into the illegal prescription scheme. Throughout two years, El-Nachef operated in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and prescribed medically unnecessary HIV medications, anti-psychotics, and opioids to thousands of individuals who were Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The beneficiaries did not use or keep the prescribed drugs, but rather diverted them to illegal markets in exchange for cash.

The illegal prescription scheme was conducted from June 2014 to April 2016. Throughout that time period, Medi-Cal recipients were promised cash if they were to pose as a patient who might need an HIV medication, anti-psychotic, or opioid prescription. El-Nachef would then prescribe one of these drugs, which each possessed a high street value, and receive cash.

Attorney General Bonta said that El-Nachef “used his position as a physician to steal taxpayer money from our state programs and fuel illicit pharmaceutical sales… he was held accountable and ordered to give back what he took from the people of California. Abuses of power – whether big or small – will never be tolerated by the California Department of Justice.”

Defendant El-Nachef pled guilty to charges of insurance fraud and aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of medicine on Wednesday. El-Nachef will give up his medical license and pay a restitution amount of $2.3 million. He will be sentenced in August of 2023.