YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Federal investigators are not mincing words in describing a local doctor charged with overprescribing opioids and causing the death of two patients.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, Martin Escobar, 57, is facing 145 counts of maintaining drug-involved premises, health care fraud and unlawfully distributing and dispensing a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21.
The federal indictment alleges that between March 2015 and May 2019, Escobar prescribed Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, tranquilizers and stimulants out of his Lake Milton office to patients with no legitimate medical reason to get them and to others to sell on the street.
Investigators called Escobar’s practice a “pill mill.”
Escobar is accused of using false diagnoses and falsified patient pain intensity scales in order to prescribe medication. Prosecutors say he knew his patients were abusing the drugs and ignored it.
The indictment also alleges that Esboar committed health care fraud by billing the government for medically unnecessary controlled drugs and urine drug screen tests, for which the results were ignored.
The most egregious of the charges surround the deaths of two patients in 2015 and 2016 that prosecutors say is the result of Escobar’s unlawful distribution of the drugs.
“Today’s indictment is another example of DEA’s determination to combat the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Detroit Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “Dr. Escobar allegedly abused his position of trust and jeopardized the lives of many individuals by illegally prescribing controlled substances.”
Federal agents raided Escobar’s Boardman Township home in November, where he was arrested.
“Every time a pill mill grinds to a halt, Ohio moves closer to ending this crisis,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Ohio needs Medicaid fraud teams like these to hold these operations accountable.”