Portsmouth treatment center owner faces 34 felony charges


By Ivy Potter - ipotter@aimmediamidwest.com



It was announced Wednesday in a release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost that Paul Vernier, 56, formerly of Portsmouth, has been indicted on 34 felony charges including Medicaid fraud, drug trafficking and engaging in a pattern of corrupt in relation to the operation of his three addiction treatment centers in Southern Ohio.

Vernier, who operated two addiction treatment centers in Portsmouth and one in Ironton, was the subject of a 2014 raid conducted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in which warrants were served at his offices located at 1616 Grant St., 4300 Old Scioto Trail, 4282 State Route 93 in Ironton, and his residence in the 200 block of Oakwood Ave. in Portsmouth.

According to a Daily Times article published during the time of the raids in September of 2014, The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy conducted a joint investigation that was launched in 2013, with the Columbus DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and Ohio Health Care Fraud Unit, in regard to Vernier and his staff allegedly engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, fraud and trafficking in prescription drugs. The alleged activity included over-billing Ohio Medicaid and submitting claims for treatments that never occurred, and forging prescriptions which were illegally presented to patients.

The indictment filed on Wednesday in the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas accuses Paul Vernier of over billing for Medicaid services and illegally operating a dispensary for the addiction treatment drug Suboxone. Vernier ran all three facilities under the name Community Counseling and Treatment Services. All three facilities have since closed.

“The evidence will show that this guy abused the trust of hurting people who were looking for help and that he played the rest of us – who pay the bills – for fools,” Yost said. “Time for some accountability.”

According to the release, the indictment is the culmination of a multi-agency investigation by Yost’s Special Prosecutions Section and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board.

Investigators uncovered evidence that Vernier dispensed Suboxone at his Ironton facility without authorization from a physician. He also allegedly overbilled the Ohio Department of Medicaid for group counseling services and claimed reimbursement for services that lacked supporting documentation.

By Ivy Potter

ipotter@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932

Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932