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Bettendorf doctor pleads guilty to fraud

Bettendorf doctor pleads guilty to fraud

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A Bettendorf physician who worked for years in emergency medicine in the Quad-Cities has pleaded guilty to 24 counts of health care fraud in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Davenport.

Dr. Paul Matthew Bolger, 45, Bettendorf, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of false statements in health care matters, five counts of introduction of misbranded drugs and one count of making a false statement in health care matters in California, which was transferred to Iowa.

Bolger will be sentenced in the federal courthouse in Davenport at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 9.

The doctor "knowingly and willingly" made false statements as he authorized prescription drugs and indicated the prescriptions were medically necessary. He signed multiple prescription forms without talking to a patient, conducting an exam or reviewing medical records.

The signed prescription forms were faxed to pharmacies in Florida and California, which filled the prescriptions, mailed them to patients and then billed Tricare, the federal health program for members of the military.

Tricare reimbursed the pharmacies for the fraudulent prescriptions, which totaled $4,436,190. Bolger authorized 1,375 prescriptions for compounded medications from March through April 2015 to a total of 432 patients. He issued prescriptions in states where he was licensed, such as Iowa, and also in states where he was not licensed, including Alabama.

For making false statements, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a special assessment of $100 per count.

To date, Bolger has agreed to pay $10,000 in restitution to Tricare. In the Quad-Cities, Bolger had worked for UnityPoint Health Trinity Bettendorf.

Bolger's attorney, Jeffrey Lang with Lane & Waterman, Davenport, issued a statement in his client's behalf:

"Dr. Bolger is a highly respected physician in the Quad Cities. During a very brief period in early 2015, he made a terrible mistake in authorizing prescriptions for compounded topical pain creams. Those creams contained no controlled substances of any kind. For issuing those prescriptions during the course of two months, he received less than $11,000.

"When issues surrounding these prescriptions were brought to his attention, Dr. Bolger immediately self-reported this matter to the Iowa Board of Medicine and also the other states where he is licensed. Those state medical boards that have reached decisions about Dr. Bolger have concluded — based upon medical standards — that he should be allowed to continue practicing medicine.

"Dr. Bolger is an excellent physician respected by his peers. He has been practicing emergency medicine and promoting wellness in the Quad-Cities and elsewhere for over 20 years. He looks forward to getting this entire matter behind him."

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