fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris in Great Falls, Mont.  on Thursday imposed a slap-on-the-hand sentence on a former Indian Health Service (IHS) doctor who pleaded guilty to engaging in a $45,540 kickback scheme.

Dr. Arnold Scott Devous, 68, of Billings, Mont. pleaded guilty on Sept. 10, 2020 for prescribing a diabetes drug from a pharmacy in exchange for kickbacks. Devous worked on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Chief Judge Morris sentenced Devous to three months in prison, with two years of supervised release and a fine of $10,000. Chief Judge Morris allowed Devous to self-report to prison.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Devous used his position at IHS as a medical officer and in charge of the diabetes program in Browning to prescribe Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medication. Farxiga was not on the IHS formulary and could not be obtained at the facility.

From December 2015 until June 2016, Devous solicited multiple pharmacies in Montana to fill expensive prescriptions of Farxiga in exchange for Devous receiving a "cut" of the profits and kickbacks. Government personnel are prohibited from engaging in these types of relationships.

Ultimately, a pharmacy agreed to Devous's terms and paid him $45,540 over approximately six months. Devous first hid the kickbacks by sending the money to his wife, and then he used a prospective business associate. Neither of these options are allowed under law. When interviewed, Devous admitted that his wife received the money, which was illegal. Devous also admitted that he never informed his superiors of the outside income, as required by law.

“Dr. Devous used his position and ability to exploit patients in the Blackfeet community. These kinds of kickback schemes erode the public’s trust in its healthcare providers at a time when we need that trust more than ever. We will continue to prosecute these schemes to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a statement.

"By engaging in kickback schemes, Dr. Devous committed a serious ethics violation which may result in diminished public trust of federal employees,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a statement. “With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to rooting out corruption in our federal healthcare programs.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

More Stories Like This

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to Host Hearing on Public Safety in Indian Country
Native Bidaské with Kevin Sharp on Leonard Peltier’s Upcoming Parole Hearing
Senate Subcommittee to Hear Testimony on President Biden’s FY Budget for Indian Programs on Thursday
Native News Weekly (May 19, 2024): D.C. Briefs
Native Artist and Former Cultural Advisor to the Chicago Blackhawks Sues Team for Sexual Harassment, Fraud

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].