Aug. 31 – A Scranton doctor who pleaded guilty to prescribing powerful narcotics to patients who did not need them as part of an elaborate kickback scheme was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years and eight months in federal prison.
Dr. Kurt Moran showed no emotion when U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani imposed the sentence after a nearly two-hour hearing in which Moran was described as both a caring doctor and a family man and an avid drug dealer.
A federal grand jury issued a 423-count indictment in September 2020, accusing Moran of running a pill mill by illegally prescribing oxycodone and fentanyl to patients at his Green Ridge medical office. Street from January 2014 to January 2018.
As part of the scheme, prosecutors say a pharmaceutical company bribed him to prescribe too much Subsys, a spray containing fentanyl, to patients who did not need it, including one who had a fatal overdose. The payments were disguised as speaking fees.
Moran, 70, pleaded guilty in December to unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the usual course of professional practice, maintaining a drug-related local and healthcare fraud. He did not plead guilty to causing the patient’s death, but the conduct was factored into sentencing guidelines.
Federal prosecutors and the defense have agreed to recommend a 12-year prison sentence — a drastic reduction from sentencing guidelines that called for a sentence of just under 22 years to just over 27 years in prison, according to the calculation of the Federal Department of Probation.
Several members of Moran’s family pleaded with the judge to reduce the agreed sentence. Brian McMonagle, Moran’s attorney, said his client suffered from several serious health conditions, including liver and heart disease.
“A 12-year sentence is equivalent to a death sentence,” McMonagle said. “I don’t believe he deserves a death sentence.”
Speaking through tears, Moran’s daughter, Karissa Moran, asked Mariani to adapt a phrase combining “justice and compassion”.
“Nothing my father did was done with malicious intent,” she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski urged Mariani to accept the negotiated sentence, imploring her to consider patients whose lives were ruined after becoming addicted to powerful narcotics Moran prescribed.
“He admitted he became a drug dealer. The only difference is he had a degree hanging on the wall,” Olshefski said.
One of Moran’s former patients, Edward Mizenko, 49, from Exeter, angrily confronted Moran as he testified about the difficulties he faced after becoming addicted to drugs Moran had prescribed for his headaches back.
“I lost sixteen years because of this and it was greed,” Mizenko said, turning to look at Moran, then shouted, “You weren’t a good doctor for me.”
In a brief statement, Moran said he was “embarrassed” to be in front of the judge.
“If I hurt people, I’m really sorry,” he said. “It was never intentional. I was really doing what I thought was best as a doctor.”
Mariani said he considered Moran’s age, health, and testimonials and letters from patients who praised him as a compassionate and caring physician. This had to be weighed against the seriousness of his crime and the fact that the suggested sentence was so below the indicative range that it was “almost unknown”.
“I’m aware that you may have helped many patients over the years, and I don’t think you acted maliciously,” Mariani said. “I have found that you have violated your professional oath and ethics. … You have harmed patients in numerous instances and have been reckless in doing so.”
In addition to the jail sentence, Moran was ordered to forfeit $134,000 and pay restitution of just over $6,500 to cover funeral expenses for the patient who fatally overdosed.
Moran’s license to practice medicine has been suspended since October 7, 2020.
Moran was released after the hearing and ordered to surrender to begin serving his sentence on October 17.
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