Six doctors charged in $500m opioid scheme preyed on addicts, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say six doctors have been charged in a scheme that involved millions of opioid drugs and unnecessary medical procedures in southeastern Michigan.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says it's "particularly egregious" for doctors to prey on addicts.

An indictment unsealed Thursday says the doctors prescribed opioids to induce people to visit. The indictment says patients were forced to undergo other treatments. Nearly $500 million was billed to insurers, mostly Medicare and Medicaid.

The alleged ringleader was Dr. Rajendra Bothra, who operated pain clinics in Warren and Eastpointe. He's charged with conspiracy, fraud and other crimes. He was returned to jail to await a detention hearing Friday. His attorney declined to comment.   

Prosecutors say the six doctors operated pills mills and gave out drugs that weren't necessary.

Mary Jonas was a patient of Dr. Gaiu Edu, one of the six doctors. She went to her first appointment at the Pain Center in Warren about two months ago and immediately knew something was wrong.

"I instantly had anxiety. Must have been 50 people in there," Jonas said. "It just reminded me of a drug house

But Jonas says a pinch nerve was causing her so much pain that she pushed her concerns aside and met with Dr. Edu. She says the doctor did not offer a thorough explanation of the treatment she was receiving   

"I said what were all these shots that you gave me he says oh that was for your bulging disk and they burned nerves in your back... I've never felt this much pain before," she said.

Authorities say the six doctors fraudulently billed medicare and illegally prescribed controlled substance in a scheme that netted them more than $500 million.

The Pain Center locations are owned by Dr. Bothra. Federal officials called him the mastermind behind the scheme.

When Jonas heard about the investigation into in fraudulent medical billing and illegally prescribing controlled substances she says she wasn't surprised.

Jonas says she is considering a lawsuit. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.