A former Bowling Green physician who pleaded guilty to 46 criminal counts stemming from an investigation into his practice was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.
Charles Fred Gott, 66, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on a count of conspiring to distribute controlled substances that were not for a legitimate medical purpose, 14 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and 31 counts of health care fraud.
“I’m sorry for the circumstances that led up to this,” Gott said while addressing U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers at the sentencing hearing. “There is no one to blame but me. I’ll plead for leniency if possible, but I’ll accept your decision and I’ll make the best of it.”
Stivers allowed Gott to report to prison in two weeks. The former cardiologist has paid $162,366.46 in court-ordered restitution.
He was also ordered to pay a $17,500 fine and forfeit his medical license, which was already suspended.
Authorities accused Gott of dispensing and distributing prescriptions for drugs such as methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxymorphone and clonazepam to multiple patients for no medical purpose and outside the course of accepted practice between 2010 and 2013.
He was also accused of fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid by submitting claims for office visits at a higher code than the service he actually provided for patients under his care and submitting claims for medically unnecessary tests between 2006 and 2013.
Gott, who was represented by attorney David Broderick, operated a cardiology practice but transitioned from that specialty to pain management late in his career.
“There’s no question Dr. Gott has helped thousands of people through his cardiology practice over the years,” Stivers said at the sentencing hearing. “When he transitioned from cardiology, it appears he got into an area of medicine where he did not have sufficient training and did not follow proper protocols.”
Federal court records featured allegations that Gott’s prescribing practices were the subject of anonymous complaints to area law enforcement as early as 2009.
“Gott was the leading prescriber of methadone in the Bowling Green, Lexington and Louisville areas,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ansari said in a pretrial memorandum filed this year. “In addition, Gott ignored numerous red flags that indicated patients were drug seekers or addicts.”
Kentucky State Police opened an investigation in 2012 after detectives were contacted by a Warren County deputy coroner who had responded to a fatal overdose and learned Gott was the victim’s physician and has been the physician for at least two other overdose victims, court records said.
Gott was prohibited from prescribing controlled substances in 2013 by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.
Federal prosecutors also accused Gott of three counts of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance resulting in a patient’s death and a count of health care fraud resulting in a patient’s death, but those charges were dismissed in the plea agreement.