PENSACOLA, FLORIDA - Destin physician Robert Bourlier, 55, was convicted today of 17 counts of health care fraud and 126 counts of unlawful dispensing of controlled substances, announced Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The convictions came at the end of a three-week jury trial in Pensacola. At trial, the government presented evidence that, while operating a medical business known as Dr. Robert Bourlier, Internal Medicine, on U.S. Highway 98 in Destin, Bourlier prescribed controlled substances to patients without a sufficient medical necessity, and did so in quantities and dosages that caused his patients to abuse, misuse, and become addicted to the drugs. Through the testimony of more than 76 witnesses, the government established that Bourlier continued to prescribe controlled substances even after he learned that the patients were addicted to the drugs, had suffered overdoses from them, were doctor shopping to get more drugs, or were, in some cases, selling the drugs on the street.
The government’s evidence in support of the health care fraud charges included evidence that, as a result of Bourlier’s unlawful prescribing practices, Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid for prescriptions that were not medically necessary. The government also presented evidence that Bourlier submitted fraudulent claims for medical services to these health care benefit organizations.
The jury’s verdict included a finding that Bourlier’s dispensing of methadone and alprazolam in September 2006, and his dispensing of hydrocodone and alprazolam in August 2007, resulted in the death of two patients.
Bourlier faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the health care fraud convictions, a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the controlled substance dispensing counts, and a mandatory 20 years’ to life term of imprisonment on the one count of dispensing of methadone resulting in death. Sentencing is scheduled for a date after August 12, 2011.
On the day of jury selection, Bourlier’s wife and co-defendant, Victoria Bourlier, pled guilty to charges that she obstructed justice by removing records, documents and objects, including two safes and a duffel bag from the residence she shared with Robert Bourlier while officials were executing a search warrant at Bourlier’s medical office. Victoria Bourlier is scheduled to be sentenced on a date after July 11, 2011. She faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
The case is the result of a two-year long investigation by the Federal/State North Florida Health Care Fraud Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Tiffany Eggers. U.S. Attorney Marsh praised the work of the investigators and AUSA Eggers, and the vigilance of the pharmacists and citizens who first brought Bourlier’s conduct to the attention of law enforcement.