ROANOKE, Va. – Frank Purpera, Jr., the former owner of the Virginia Vein Institute, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to 90 months in federal prison after being convicted by a jury in January 2020 of illegally distributing controlled substances, health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and obstruction of justice.
The court also ordered Purpera to pay more than $2.3 million in restitution.
Purpera, 45, of Blacksburg, was convicted in January on 56 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.
Evidence presented at trial established that Purpera, for a period of approximately five years, wrote numerous prescriptions for Percocet and Adderall, both Schedule II controlled substances, in the name of his wife, who had a different last name, on multiple occasions. The prescriptions were not for legitimate medical purposes and were outside the scope of Purpera’s medical practice.
In addition, the defendant falsified his medical records and sent millions of dollars in fraudulent bills to Medicare, Virginia Medicaid and Anthem Insurance. This evidence was the basis for the restitution order.
After a search warrant was executed at the Virginia Vein Institution in September 2016, Purpera told his employees to say, “I don’t recall” when questioned by federal investigators. To reiterate this point, Purpera showed an employee a video clip from the popular movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” in which numerous employees, when interviewed by federal law enforcement, say “I don’t recall, I don’t recall.”
Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made the joint announcement of the sentencing.
“Dr. Purpera violated the trust placed in him when he illegally prescribed powerful narcotics and defrauded important health care programs depriving Virginians of necessary funding,” Bubar said. “Today’s significant sentence is the product of years of work by an incredible group of our state and federal partners: the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
“Doctors and other healthcare providers who defraud our healthcare system and use their position to illegally distribute controlled substances not only waste taxpayer money but also put their communities in danger,” said Herring. “I want to thank both our state and federal partners for their hard work on this case and continued collaboration on similar important cases.”
“Dr. Purpera placed his interests above those of the taxpayers and the patients he served. In the process, he compromised his integrity and violated the Hippocratic Oath,” said Dixon. “We will continue to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to protect our health programs and bring criminals to justice.”
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and an Investigator with the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Jones and Randy Ramseyer, and Nicole Terry, a special assistant United States attorney and an assistant attorney general assigned to the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, prosecuted the case for the United States.