East Tennessee doctor sentenced to 18 months for role in illicit mobile suboxone clinic

Crime and Courts

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee medical doctor, who previously lost his authorization to write prescriptions for controlled substances, has pleaded guilty to federal charges after he was caught issuing prescriptions in the name of another doctor.

In the spring of 2018, investigators with the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services learned that 49-year-old Michael LaPaglia would meet patients at his home and in parking lots where, without any meaningful examination, LaPaglia would give the drug customers prescriptions (signed by another doctor) for controlled substances such as Suboxone, Clonazepam, diazepam and Pregabalin.

Customers were charged $300 cash per monthly visit. The customers would then take their prescriptions to be filled at pharmacies, where many of them used their health insurance to pay for the controlled substances.

“Tennessee remains at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. Opioid abuse destroys lives and devastates families. It is extremely disappointing when caregivers allow greed and selfishness to violate their oath to help those in need. The FBI along with our federal, state, and local partners will continue to investigate and hold those accountable to face the consequences of their actions,” said Joseph E. Carrico, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Knoxville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The charges were the result of an investigation by the FBI, HHS, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. LaPaglia, 49, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution to the health care providers who were victims in this case. Honorable Katherine A. Crytzer in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville delivered this sentence.

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