Not Clear Whether
His Health Problem
Will Affect Legal Case Against Him And Wife
BY KEN LITTLE
The condition of Greeneville physician Anindya K. Sen is improving after a health setback several weeks ago.
Dr. Sen, 64, who with his wife Patricia was recently charged by the federal government with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and related counts, suffered a seizure earlier this month and was hospitalized until recently.
Sen is recovering at home, his lawyer, Edward M. Yarbrough, said this week.
It's not known if Sen's health issues will affect the legal case going forward, Yarbrough said.
"Due to health issues, Dr. Sen is undergoing some treatment but is doing well at this point. We don't know yet if that will have any effect on the progress of the case," Yarbrough said.
Sen's clinics in Greeneville and Johnson City remain open, and other doctors are temporarily filling in for him, according to the attorney.
"He hopes to return as soon as possible," Yarbrough said.
NEW TRIAL DATE SET
As Sen recuperates, there have been other developments in his case.
U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer recently approved a motion by Sen to have his trial date continued. The trial date, which had been set for September, was rescheduled to Dec. 13.
Sen's medical issues and a scheduling conflict for Yarbrough, who has a murder trial in state court at the same time that the Sens' trial was initially scheduled, are listed in court documents as the reason for the continuance request.
A plea-agreement deadline of Nov. 19 was set by Judge Greer, but the possibility of a plea agreement with the government seems unlikely.
"We are completely, totally innocent," Patricia Sen recently said.
"They maintain their innocence and look forward to proving their innocence at the trial," added Yarbrough, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
The Greeneville oncologist and his wife were indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S., 29 counts of introduction into interstate commerce of a misbranded drug, and seven counts of knowingly importing merchandise contrary to law.
Their business, East Tennessee Cancer & Blood Center, P.C. (ETCBC), is also named in the indictment.
Sen is managing physician and president of ETCBC, with offices at 1406 Tusculum Blvd., and in Johnson City. Patricia Sen is ETCBC practice manager.
In a superseding indictment filed July 9 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, two additional counts of willfully making a false statement were filed against Patricia Sen.
In telephone interviews and personal interviews with agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation conducted on March 27 and April 5, Patricia Sen said ETCBC "had not purchased or used foreign drugs or foreign-labeled drugs," the indictment states.
If convicted of the charges against them, the Sens face terms of up to 20 years in prison on the health-care-fraud charge and each of the unlawful importation charges, along with fines of up to $250,000 per count and up to three years of supervised release, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The superseding indictment reiterates all allegations in the original document, which was filed after a federal grand jury in Greeneville returned an indictment naming the Sens on June 11.
It states that the Sens purchased the drugs to treat patients with cancer and other diseases from a company in Alberta, Canada, called Clinical Care.
The indictment said ETCBC bought "large amounts of assorted prescription drugs," including chemotherapy drugs, which were prescribed by Anindya Sen "and were administrated and dispensed through ETCBC."
The medical office then sought reimbursement from Medicare and TennCare Medicaid programs, along with other health-benefit-providers, the indictment said.
Clinical Care sold drugs "which had been obtained from foreign sources and which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution and use in the United States," the indictment said.
The Sens began ordering drugs from Clinical Care in April 2009, "and Clinical Care began shipping misbranded unapproved drugs to ETCBC," the indictment alleged.
The drugs came from foreign sources not inspected and approved by the FDA, the indictment said, "to include drugs which had been distributed in Turkey, India, the European Union, and elsewhere."
When nurses and other staff raised concerns that packaging for chemotherapy drugs purchased by ETCBC from Clinical Care had labeling in foreign languages, "establishing that the drugs were not approved for use in the United States, defendant Patricia Posey Sen told the staff that there were no problems with the drugs, or words to that effect," the indictment said.
TIME FRAME ALLEGED
ETCBC obtained misbranded unapproved drugs from 2009 to March 2012, "purchasing over $3 million in (those drugs) and providing those drugs to their patients," according to the indictment.
Medicare, TennCare and other benefits programs were then billed about $3.2 million, the indictment states.
Drugs the government alleges were misbranded and administered to patients at ETCBC include Aloxi, Altuzan, Avastin, Bonviva, Mabthera, Neupogen and Venofer.
The indictment states that the purpose of the conspiracy for the defendants was to "unlawfully enrich themselves by, among other things, submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, TennCare and other health-benefit-programs."