El Paso doctor accused of distributing controlled substances and health care fraud


File photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A 60-year-old El Paso doctor was arrested Thursday, accused of committing health care fraud and distributing controlled substances that resulted in the overdose deaths of five people. 

Dr. Brian James August was charged with five counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death or serious bodily injury, five counts of distribution of a controlled substance and five counts of health care fraud resulting in death.

August remains in federal custody at the El Paso County Detention Facility.  His initial appearance is expected to take place at 2 p.m. Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne T. Berton in El Paso.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between December 2021 and March 2018, August allegedly practiced “physiatry,” or physical medicine and rehab; prescribed and dispensed controlled substances — including methadone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone — outside the usual course of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose, resulting in the deaths of five victims.

August is also accused of health care fraud in which he billed for services he did not perform.

“Doctors take an oath to do no harm,” said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “When doctors violate that oath by illegally distributing prescription drugs, their actions can kill. Stopping the illegal diversion of prescription drugs is a high priority for DEA, and we will continue to pursue such offenders, no matter who they are.”

If convicted, August faces 20 years to life in federal prison for the drug charges resulting in death; up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the remaining drug charges; and up to life in federal prison for each of the health care fraud charges.

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