MILWAUKEE -- A nationwide operation is cracking down on fraudulent health care workers over-prescribing opioids -- leading to hundreds of arrests. And this cooperative effort will have a local impact.
This surprise crackdown was massive, with more than 600 people charged in 30 states -- and of those people, five of them live in southeastern Wisconsin.
"The U.S. Department of Justice and Health and Human Services announced the largest ever national healthcare fraud takedown," United States Attorney Matthew Krueger said.
In the largest operation of its kind - law enforcement in 30 states cracked down on people posing as healthcare providers, and pushing opioids out into the community.
"Some providers exploit their privileges and prescribe opioids without a legitimate medical purpose, but rather for their own private gain - that's drug dealing," Krueger said.
Law enforcement are calling it a major success. Fraud loss amounts more than $2 billion, along with 601 defendants charged -- 165 of them were medical professionals, 162 were dealing strictly with opioids. Five of these cases were here in Wisconsin.
"I've met with law enforcement in our far northern counties, they've talked to us about individuals they're dealing with who are addicted to opioids who are getting their drugs right here in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin," Attorney General Brad Schimel said.
Lisa and Robert Hofschulz of Wauwatosa ran a clinical pain consultant business and were indicted on 14 counts of fraud and opioid distribution. And in West Allis: Kameka Simipson, Eric Jasper, and Brittany Washington indicted on eight counts of fraudulent opioid prescription use.
A federal grand jury indicted Lisa and Robert Hofschulz with prescribing excessive amounts of opioids. It charges the Hofschulzes with selling a controlled substance and conspiracy to sell a controlled substance.
According to the indictment, Lisa Hofschulz's cash-only Clinical Pain Consultants clinic collected more than $800,000 in 2015 and $1 million in 2016 by prescribing excessive dosages of opioids, particularly oxycodone and methadone, for no medical purpose.
The indictment states the Hofschulzes distributed an "enormous amount of opioids" throughout Wisconsin that has fueled numerous addictions.
The Hofschulzes are due to appear in court on July 19 for a plea hearing.
"I hope those who are breaking the law are seeing this, and I hope it's making them nervous," Schimel said.
On October 23 and 24 here in Milwaukee, law enforcement officials are planning to host an opioid summit for local leaders. They hope to discuss more cooperation by county officials as a means of tackling the opioid crisis locally.