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Former Indian Health Services doctor sentenced for drug kickback scheme on Blackfeet Indian Reservation

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Posted at 7:51 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 09:52:07-05

GREAT FALLS — Dr. Arnold Scott Devous, a former Indian Health Services doctor who worked on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and admitted using his job to prescribe a diabetes drug from a pharmacy in exchange for kickbacks, was sentenced on Thursday in federal court in Great Falls.

Devous, 68, pleaded guilty on Sept. 10 to federal medical officer with conflict of interest.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Devous used his position at IHS as a medical officer and in charge of the diabetes program in Browning to prescribe Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medication. Farxiga was not on the IHS formulary and could not be obtained at the facility. From December 2015 until June 2016, Devous solicited multiple pharmacies in Montana to fill expensive prescriptions of Farxiga in exchange for Devous receiving a "cut" of the profits and kickbacks. Government personnel are prohibited from engaging in these types of relationships.

Ultimately, a pharmacy agreed to Devous' terms and paid him $45,540 in approximately six months. Devous first hid the kickbacks by sending the money to his wife, and then he used a prospective business associate. Neither of these options was allowable under the law. When interviewed, Devous admitted that his wife received the money, which was illegal. Devous also admitted he never informed his superiors of the outside income as required by law.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided, and sentenced Devous to three months in prison followed by two years of supervised release; Devous was also fined $10,000, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson.

“Dr. Devous used his position and ability to exploit patients in the Blackfeet community. These kinds of kickback schemes erode the public’s trust in its healthcare providers at a time when we need that trust more than ever. We will continue to prosecute these schemes to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.

"By engaging in kickback schemes, Dr. Devous committed a serious ethics violation which may result in diminished public trust of federal employees,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to rooting out corruption in our federal healthcare programs.”