- By Native News Online Staff
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 ThisNative News Weekly (January 29, 2023): D.C. Briefs
7-Year-Old Boy Dies from Dog Attack on Fort Hall Reservation
Navajo Nation Elects Its First Female Speaker
WATCH: Indigenous Chef Crystal Wahpepah on Native Bidaske
Indigenous Food Chef Crystal Wahpepah on This Week's Native Bidaské
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW), the attacks on tribal sovereignty at the Supreme Court and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Please consider a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10 to help fund us throughout the year. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.