26 Baton Rouge-area residents charged in federal health care fraud, opioid crimes investigation

26 Baton Rouge-area residents charged in federal health care fraud, opioid crimes investigation

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Twenty-six people from the Baton Rouge-area are facing federal charges resulting from the nation's largest ever health care fraud investigation.

U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced the charges today, relating to health care fraud, opioid-related crimes, and related offenses.

The following residents were listed as defendants:

  • Christopher William Armstrong
  • Gretchen Duplantis
  • Mark Stephan Immasche
  • Michael Gaines
  • Randy Lamartiniere
  • Byron Robbins
  • Shanard Zelron Banks
  • Reuben Maurice Crawford
  • Toddriquez Deangelo Bradley
  • Chris D. Davis
  • Michael Wayne Brown, Jr.
  • Le’Alan Dequan Banks
  • Ricky Elvis Joseph
  • Rodrick Demond Harris
  • Charlene Latrice Brock
  • Darlene Patrice Brock
  • Latasha Nicole Brock
  • Nakia Martell Brock
  • Stanley Renard Lias, Jr.
  • Kentrell Dontay Augustus
  • Zion Hurst
  • Tremayne Dabney
  • Daryl Joseph Adams
  • Jonathan Latard Booth
  • Clinton Keith Chaffold, Jr.
  • Marjoe Sanchez Holmes

Christopher William Armstrong, 43, of Prairieville, a licensed physician's assistant, was indicted by a federal grand jury for health care fraud, conspiracy to violate the federal Controlled Substances Act, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. According to the indictment, Armstrong created fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone from 2004 to 2014. Armstrong would allegedly forge physician's signatures for the prescriptions or cause physicians to unknowingly sign the fraudulent prescriptions.

Gretchen Duplantis, 44, of Prairieville, was charged with two counts of health care fraud. Duplantis owned and operated the physical therapy clinic Spine and Body, LLC in Baton Rouge. Duplantis is accused of submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana from 2012 to 2014. During the two-year period, Duplantis submitted about $1.6 million in fraudulent claims and was paid over $470,000, according to the indictment.

Mark Stephan Immasche, 44, of Prairieville, was charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone. Immasche is accused of conspiring with others to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone from 2012 to 2017.

Michael Gaines, 65, of Baker, was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of healthcare fraud. Gaines, a supervisory-level licensed clinical social worker at St. Gabriel Health Clinic and others caused practitioners at St. Gabriel Health Clinic to make false claims for group therapy treatment for students with Axis I disorders. According to the indictment, St. Gabriel's claims for group psychotherapy totaled more than $1.8 million during the relevant time period.

Randy Lamartiniere, 59, a Baton Rouge physician, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 55 counts of distribution of controlled substances. Nine of the 55 counts involve Lamartiniere allegedly dispensing prescriptions after his license to practice medicine was suspended by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, with the suspension including a prohibition on prescribing controlled substances. The remaining 46 counts involve Lamartiniere dispensing prescriptions for Adderall and opioids outside the scope of his medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. According to the indictment, Lamartiniere's unlawful prescriptions subjected at least 25 patients to serious injury and addiction.

Twenty-one other Baton Rouge-area defendants were named in a 68-count indictment following an investigation into an illegal drug trafficking network over several years.

Byron Robbins, Shanard Zelron Banks, Reuben Maurice Crawford, Toddriquez Deangelo Bradley, Chris D. Davis, Michael Wayne Brown, Jr., Le'Alan Dequan Banks, Ricky Elvis Joseph, Rodrick Demond Harris, Charlene Latrice Brock, Darlene Patrice Brock, Latasha Nicole Brock, Nakia Martell Brock, Stanley Renard Lias, Jr., Kentrell Dontay Augustus, Zion Hurst, Tremayne Dabney, Daryl Joseph Adams, Jonathan Latard Booth, Clinton Keith Chaffold, Jr., and Marjoe Sanchez Holmes were named as defendants in the drug trafficking indictment. All of the 21 defendants are alleged residents of Baton Rouge, Zachary, Baker, and River Ridge, LA.

The 68-count indictment charges the 21 defendants with a variety of offenses, such as ci such as conspiracy; distribution of heroin, furanyl fentanyl, methamphetamine, and clonazolam; distribution of counterfeit substances; possession of punches and dies for counterfeiting controlled substances; and several additional controlled substance offenses.

The indictment also charges several defendants with possession of firearms by convicted felons, possessing firearms in furtherance of drug-trafficking crimes, engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, and failure to file IRS Form 8300s.

In Baton Rouge, since 2009, the Baton Rouge-based Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged more than 90 defendants with health care fraud and related offenses, achieving a 95% conviction rate.

U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin said in a statement:

"Today's historic announcement illustrates the top to bottom commitment by those in the U.S. Department of Justice to fight healthcare fraud and the opioid epidemic. My office shares this commitment and dedication, as illustrated by the successful results we have secured with our outstanding federal, state, and local partners. The South Louisiana Healthcare Fraud Strike Force started in 2009 and continues to be an enormous success in rooting out fraudsters stealing off the backs of hardworking taxpayers, the elderly, and the infirm. I commend our prosecutors and our strike force partners – the U.S. DOJ Fraud Section, HHS-OIG, FBI, and Attorney General Landry's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit – for their tenacity in bringing the cheats and the scammers to justice. I similarly applaud the outstanding efforts of our many federal, state, and local partners who have joined us in the ongoing battle against an opioid epidemic that has touched far too many lives in our communities. In particular, today's announcement highlights the extraordinary efforts of the DEA in working with our office and our state and local partners to combat opioid trafficking. Score one for the good guys today. Our fight continues tomorrow."

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