81-year-old former pediatrician pleads guilty to fraud

An 81-year-old former pediatrician who opened a pain management practice in 2009 pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud Wednesday, according to the Department of Justice.

According to his plea agreement, Nicola Tauraso, MD, practiced as a pediatrician between 1972 and 2007. In 2009 he opened a pain management practice in Frederick, Md. Dr. Tauraso saw an excessive number of patients at his clinic — typically about 80 per eight-hour day — and wrote prescriptions for Oxycodone and Ocycontine without determining if a medical need existed for the prescriptions.

In June 2011, the Maryland State Board of Physicians revoked Dr. Tauraso's medical license for prescribing Oxycondone, Oxycontine and other drugs to 17 patients without taking sufficient history or performing a physical. At least five of the patients were prescribed Oxycontin, Ocycodone, Xanax and Tramadol, which is a deadly medical combination, according to the DOJ.

An insurance investigator found that patients did not use insurance for visits with Dr. Tauraso. He deposited approximately $821,358 in cash into his bank accounts in 2010, of which approximately $575,000 was transferred to a bank in Panama.

Dr. Tauraso was indicted in 2014 and arrested at an airport in Virginia in July as he was returning from Panama, according to The Frederick News-Post.

As part of his plea deal, Dr. Tauraso has agreed to forfeit the funds held in his bank account in Panama, which now total approximately $100,000. He faces up to 10 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 8.

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