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Dentist indicted on prescription, fraud charges
Identity theft also among allegations
Question of the Day
An Oakton dentist has been indicted on charges of illegally distributing prescription pills to patients, professionals and paramours over the past five years and also assuming another dentist’s identity to bill more than $160,000 in claims for work he performed on his family.
A grand jury recently indicted Hamada Makarita, 50, on charges of conspiracy, health care fraud, aggravated identity theft and 12 counts of dispensing controlled substances.
The federal government smoked him out through an investigation known as Operation Cotton Candy, according to the office of Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Dr. Makarita faces 10 years in prison on the health care fraud charge, 20 years for conspiracy and each of the controlled-substances charges, and a consecutive two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Dr. Makarita distributed drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and Valium to patients and girlfriends and for “prurient” purposes, “including, but not limited to, consensual and non-consensual sex,” according to the 20-page indictment.
At least once, Dr. Makarita took pictures of a patient he was dating without her consent to the photo while she was under the influence of drugs he had illegally given to her. Dr. Makarita then emailed the photos to friends and employees, prosecutors said.
Dr. Makarita also is said to have provided more than $160,000 in services to his family members and illegally billed them to Aetna using the name of another dentist. He was reimbursed more than $91,000 for the fraudulent claims.
According to a sworn affidavit from Joseph S. Parker Jr., a special agent for the FBI, the investigation started with information from a confidential informant who had worked for Dr. Makarita for more than 15 years. According to the informant, Dr. Makarita became stressed in 2008 and 2009 while going through a divorce and began taking prescription drugs. He would call in prescriptions or hand the informant prescriptions in the informant’s name and the names of other employees in the office.
Dr. Makarita received his license to practice dentistry in 1988, and state records show no instances of disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP).
The FBI in August received the results of an audit from DHP investigator Cheryl Hodgson reviewing 23 patient files from Dr. Makarita’s office. A review of the informant’s patient files, which were among those audited, found no documentation for the 16 drug prescriptions the informant had received between Jan. 12, 2007, and Jan. 26, 2010.
The informant also received three emails from Dr. Makarita on June 19, 2009. The first, with the subject line “Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Passed Out!” had an attached photo of a naked blond woman lying on a bed with her legs spread, appearing to be unconscious. The second, with no subject line, had a photo attached of a blond female sitting on a counter.
“The female has a shirt, but due to the limitations of the photo; it is hard to definitively say if she has pants,” the affidavit says. “The female’s bare leg is shown in the photo. The female’s eyes are closed in the photo, but she appears to be conscious.”
The third email, with the subject line “From Hamada,” depicts a blond woman who is naked except for her high-heeled shoes, leaning against a counter with her eyes closed.
Mr. Parker interviewed several other people who received drug prescriptions from Dr. Makarita. Ms. Hodgson reviewed patient files for those people and found more than 50 undocumented prescriptions had been written for them.
Neither Dr. Makarita nor his office responded to requests for comment on Monday.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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