Patricia Sen Faces
29 Felony Counts
That Pertain To
BY KEN LITTLE
Felony health-care fraud charges against Greeneville oncologist Dr. Anindya K. Sen have been dropped by the federal government, according to a second superseding indictment filed on Tuesday.
But new felony charges against Sen's wife, Patricia Posey Sen, and the clinics operated by the couple, East Tennessee Cancer & Blood Center (ETCBC), are added in the indictment.
In the same indictment, a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States is dropped against both Anindya Sen and Patricia Sen.
Sen and his wife were indicted in June by a federal grand jury on charges connected with the alleged sale and administration of misbranded drugs.
Sen, 64, is managing physician and president of ETCBC, with offices at 1406 Tusculum Blvd. and in Johnson City. Patricia Sen, his wife, is ETCBC practice manager.
Both maintain their innocence, and have entered not guilty pleas. A joint trial is set for Dec. 3.
In an interview following the June 11 indictment, Patricia Sen strongly maintained the couple's innocence.
"We are completely, totally innocent. We plan on pleading not guilty because we are not guilty," Patricia Sen said on June 13.
In the second superseding indictment, Patricia Sen and ETCBC are charged with 44 felony counts of health-care fraud.
Anindya Sen, Patricia Sen and ETCBC are also charged with 25 counts of interstate commerce of misbranded drugs and six counts of receiving merchandise imported contrary to law, charged as felonies.
Patricia Sen was indicted July 9 in a first superseding indictment on two counts of willfully making a false statement to government agents, a felony.
The indictment filed on Tuesday charges Dr. Sen with 29 misdemeanor violations of causing the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded drugs, and Patricia Sen with 29 felony violations of the same statute.
The second superseding indictment does not state why the health-care fraud charges against Anindya Sen were dropped.
It is unusual for the U.S. Attorney's Office to drop charges in a superseding indictment, said Nashville lawyer Edward Yarbrough, who represents Anindya Sen.
"This one breaks the mold," Yarbrough, a former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said Wednesday.
MOTIONS HEARING SET
A motions hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Inman.
The second superseding indictment said that, as part of the treatment for patients with cancer and other diseases, ETCBC purchased chemotherapy and other prescription drugs prescribed by Dr. Sen, and administered and dispensed them through the practice.
Reimbursement for the drugs and their administration was sought from the Medicare and TennCare programs, along with other health care benefit programs.
The indictment said that in April 2009, Patricia Sen "began ordering and directing others to order drugs" from Clinical Care, a company based in Alberta, Canada.
Clinical Care "began shipping misbranded unapproved drugs to ETCBC," where they were administered to patients and claims for reimbursement were submitted to health benefits programs.
UNAPPROVED DRUGS ALLEGED
The drugs were "from foreign sources that were not inspected and approved" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the indictment alleges.
ETCBC purchased more than $3 million worth of drugs from Clinical Care from April 2009 through March 2012, the indictment said.
The indictment said that Patricia Sen and ETCBC committed health care fraud by submitting claims for reimbursement to public health care benefit programs by "falsely representing" through codes for FDA-approved drugs, "when in fact they were not."
FALSE STATEMENTS ALLEGED
Patricia Sen was indicted on two counts of making false statements to government agents in connection with statements allegedly made on March 27 and April 5 to special agents of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigation, according to the indictment.
Dr. Sen suffered a health setback after the first indictment was filed in June. His health has improved considerably, Yarbrough said Wednesday.
"His spirits are up with the news," Yarbrough said.
Other doctors have assisted in operating the ETCBC clinics in recent months, Yarbrough said.