A Georgia doctor has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for operating a “pill mill” that dispensed a slew of controlled substances—in some situations, in exchange for cash or sex.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that Frank H. Bynes Jr., 60, of Savannah, was sentenced to the lengthy prison term after being convicted of the crimes in October 2019 by a federal jury.
Bynes was found guilty on 13 counts of illegal dispensing controlled substances and three counts of healthcare fraud.
Bynes worked at the MBA Community Clinic in Savannah and at Georgia Laboratory Diagnostic in Garden City, DOJ said, where in a three-year period he was responsible for 51,329 pharmacy fills in Georgia alone.
That led to the dispensation of more than 4.6 million doses of pills, opioid patches and other controlled substances, DOJ officials said. Bynes also defrauded federal payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE, out of more than $2 million.
“Frank Bynes poured gasoline on the raging fire of the opioid addiction crisis in our country,” Bobby Christine, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Georgia, said in a statement. “He destroyed the lives of countless individuals and deservedly will swap his white coat for a prison jumpsuit.”
While he operated the pill mill, Bynes falsely claimed to work for the DOJ and would use a fake police badge to intimidate patients into cooperating, the agency said. He would also use his authority to prescribe medications to coerce female patients into sexual activity, DOJ said.
Many of the dispensed prescriptions were of the “holy trinity” drug cocktail that comprises opioids, alprazolam and Soma, and these drugs were dispensed to patients that Bynes knew were addicted, DOJ officials said.
According to evidence presented at his trial, Bynes also knew multiple patients overdosed due to his prescriptions but he continued to write the scripts anyway. He also prescribed the trio of drugs to Medicare patients at a higher rate than any other doctor in the country, DOJ said.
DOJ said it is also investigating several Georgia pharmacies that dispensed the medications, as they’re required under federal law to ensure a prescription is provided for a legitimate medical reason and refuse scripts that may be illegitimate.
In addition to the prison sentence, Bynes must pay $615,145 in restitution to Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE and will be subject to three years of supervised release after completing his sentence.