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RI Hospital doc and assistant charged with drug fraud

August 3, 2011

An orthopedic surgeon from Rhode Island Hospital and his assistant were charged in federal court today for allegedly orchestrating a drug scheme at the hospital. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha’s office says Dr. Robert Villarreal and Gary Menissian obtained Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, and Ativan pills through forgery.

It is alleged that Dr. Villarreall forged prescriptions for himself, and several employees at Rhode Island Hospital.  In return for doing so, the employees would allegedly fill the prescriptions and then return the pills to the doctor.  Other times, it is alleged, Dr. Villarreal would write prescriptions to some employees, but then provide them to Gary Menissian, who would then return the pills to Dr. Villarreall.

In a written statement, Rhode Island Hospital says Villarreal was a resident and then a junior attending physician on fellowship at the hospital. He’s now lost all of his privileges to work there.

Robert Villarreal, M.D., was an orthopedic resident at Rhode Island Hospital from 7/1/2005 to 6/30/2010 during which time he was always supervised by an attending physician while in an operating room, a standard practice with residents. Starting on July 1, 2010, Villarreal was a one-year junior attending physician/trauma fellow, during that time his work continued to be monitored and supervised. That fellowship expired on June 30, 2011 and his privileges at Rhode Island Hospital have been revoked as of today (August 3, 2011).

For now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t comment on the case beyond its press release. For more info, check out the criminal complaint and affidavit.

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