RENO — A northern Nevada doctor specializing in family medicine was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay a $125,000 fine for overprescribing highly addictive pain pills Oxycodone and Hydrocodone not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The announcement came from United States Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy B. DeFrancesca for the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
According to court documents, the investigation into Dr. Shouping Li, 57 — who specialized in family medicine with a concentration in cardiovascular disease — began in March 2018, after the FBI received reports of several deaths related to opioid pain medication overdoses and allegations that Dr. Li may have illicitly been prescribing narcotics not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Dr. Li admitted that, between August 2015 and February 2018, he prescribed Oxycodone and Hydrocodone at a high dosage rate to his patients outside the usual course of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. He further admitted that several of his patients passed away while he actively attended to them.
Dr. Li, the former Vice Chief of Staff for Humboldt County General Hospital in Winnemucca, Nev., pleaded guilty in February 2019, to distribution of a controlled substance, specifically Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. In addition to the imprisonment, United States District Judge Miranda Du sentenced Dr. Li to three years of supervised release.
“(The) sentencing is a reminder of our unwavering commitment to hold dirty doctors accountable for feeding into the addiction of their patients,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “We will continue to aggressively pursue medical professionals who disregard their oath to do no harm.”
Special Agent in Charge Rouse continued, “The accessibility of deadly drugs are a threat to our communities,” he said. “Each and every day, the FBI and our partners in Nevada are working hard targeting distributors, who illegally contribute to the opioid crisis that continues to devastate communities all over the state of Nevada.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Tri-County Drug Enforcement Team, Nevada Department of Public Safety, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Winnemucca Police Department, Elko Combined Narcotics Unit, Elko Police Department, Elko County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami and Assistant Chief Kilby MacFadden from the Department of Justice Fraud Section prosecuted the case.
If you have a tip or information about illegal sales or distribution of prescription opioids, including Fentanyl, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone by doctors and pharmacies, contact the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.
The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is a program that utilizes data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic. Since 2017, when the Department of Justice funded a dedicated opioid prosecutor in the District of Nevada, the United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted about 12 opioid-related cases and charged about 24 defendants.