Johnstown Opioid Treatment Center Owner Indicted

PITTSBURGH, PA. – The owner and operator of SKS Associates, Inc. (SKS) has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances, using or maintaining a drug involved premises, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The five-count Indictment, returned on Feb. 5, named Stephen K. Shaner, 69, of Bulger, PA.

According to the indictment presented to the court, Shaner owns and operates SKS, a clinic that provides Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) to opioid dependent individuals with a location at 2001 Bedford Street in Johnstown, PA. The indictment alleges that Shaner conspired with Dr. Michael Cash and Dr. Ruth Jones to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine, and then unlawfully dispensed those controlled substances. Shaner is also charged with conspiring with Drs. Cash and Jones to commit health care fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare, for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine. In addition, Shaner is charged with using or maintaining a drug involved premises between May 2012 and April 2018 for the dispensing of the drugs. Finally the indictment alleges that Shaner used the proceeds of the unlawful drug activity to pay for personal obligations in violation of the money laundering statutes. Dr. Michael Cash and Dr. Ruth Jones have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

“We have made significant progress in combatting the opioid epidemic in the Western District of Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “Overdose deaths are down overall in our District. But our work has not ended. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who prey on people with opioid addiction.”

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 60 years in prison, a fine of $1,750,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Michael L. Ivory are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation leading to the filing of charges in these cases was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit (OFADU). The Western Pennsylvania OFADU, led by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, combines the expertise and resources of federal and state law enforcement to address the role played by unethical medical professionals in the opioid epidemic. This unit has investigated and prosecuted more corrupt health care professionals than any other U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country.

The agencies which comprise the Western Pennsylvania OFADU include: Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General – Bureau of Narcotic Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office – Criminal Division, Civil Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Office of Inspector General and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.