Just over a year after the state stripped former Macclenny physician Charles Scarborough of his medical license, investigators arrested him on one count of fraud in excess of $50,000 and 821 counts of filing false or fraudulent insurance claims.
Dr. Scarborough was taken into custody at 8 am on October 25 at his residence in southwest Clay County, said Special agent supervisor Andrew Shedlock with FDLE’s Jacksonville Regional Operations Center.
The single count is a first degree felony that could net Dr. Scarborough, 76, up to 30 years in prison. The other counts are third-degree felonies, which are punishable by up to five years in prison.
The investigation began last year when authorities identified Dr. Scarborough as “a significant prescriber of controlled substances in Northeast Florida,” according to a statement from FDLE.
FDLE reported that investigators said they discovered evidence allegedly linking the former Macclenny resident to overprescribing medications and allowing unlicensed and untrained staff to practice medicine.“The employees were then being directed to inflate medical billing to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers for a level of service that the patient did not receive,” reads the FDLE statement. “Interviews with employees indicated that Scarborough, a sole practitioner, pushed his staff to see 50 or more patients a day and bill for medical issues not addressed and treatment not received …”
The investigation was a cooperative effort among FDLE and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. Both agencies served a search warrant at Dr. Scarborough’s former office on S. 5th St. in September, 2011, seizing more than a dozen computers and other paper documents.
Special agent Shedlock called the information gleaned from serving the search warrant “instrumental” in developing the case against Dr. Scarborough.
The suspect was booked into the Clay County jail. The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
Court records show 10 days before investigators showed up at Dr. Scarborough’s office on September 16, 2011 with a search warrant, they obtained arrest warrants for three individuals suspected of trafficking prescription drugs obtained illegally from the office.
Melissa D. Bledsole, 43, Kayla P. Dampier, 21, and Aaron T. Devereaux, 23; all of Callahan, were taken into custody and questioned.
The arrests were made partially on the basis of statements made by Dr. Scarborough and his staff, and medical records from his office, which were provided voluntary without a warrant or written releases from patients during several visits by state and sheriff’s office investigators.
As a result, defense attorneys for the trio have filed motions to suppress the evidence gleaned from those visits.
State law protects the privacy of medical records and information exchanged between doctors and patients with few exceptions.
Judge Phyllis Rosier has granted two of the suppression motions, made by public defender Julie Johnson on behalf of her clients Ms. Dampier and Mr. Devereaux.
The judge is expected to grant a nearly identical suppression motion from private defense attorney Frank Maloney of Macclenny, who is representing Ms. Bedsole.
All three defendants face three counts of drug trafficking.
A fourth suspect who worked at Dr. Scarborough’s office, Veronica L. Alford, 42, of Macclenny, allegedly wrote bogus prescriptions and sold or traded them for pills.
She was arrested a few days after investigators served the search warrant at the clinic.
Ms. Alford faced two counts of drug trafficking and two counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain illegal drugs by fraud.
Ms. Alford, who is represented by private attorney Jeffrey A. Siegmeister of Lake City, pleaded not guilty in January, but a change of plea hearing is scheduled for December 4.
The attorney is campaigning to be the next state attorney from the Third Judicial Circuit, which covers Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor Counties.