Eliza Diaconescu, 74, of Lake Forest, (inset) who operated as a doctor at a pain clinic in Gurnee, has been convicted in federal court of health care fraud, prosecutors said. | Background Photo: Google Street View

A Gurnee doctor has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for prescribing opioids to patients without a medical visit and then fraudulently billing Medicare for the non-existent treatment.

Eliza Diaconescu, 74, of Lake Forest, was charged in July 2022 with one count of health care fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

The charge was brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Opioid Task Force, which was formed in 2019 to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

A criminal information filed in federal court said that Diaconescu pre-signed blank prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl for patients of her pain clinic in Gurnee between 2016 and 2021.

Diaconescu pre-signed the prescriptions so they could be provided to patients when she was not at the clinic, prosecutors said.

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The patients picked up the pre-signed prescriptions for the opioids from other workers at the clinic.

The patients did not have a contemporaneous examination with Diaconescu, the complaint said.

Diaconescu knowingly submitted false claims seeking reimbursement from Medicare for the purported visits, knowing that such visits did not occur, the complaint said.

The charging documents also said that Diaconescu and others at the clinic created false paperwork indicating that Diaconescu had face-to-face exams with patients.

Diaconescu entered into a plea agreement earlier this year admitting to the charge against her.

U.S. District Judge Steven C. Seeger sentenced Diaconescu on Wednesday to six months in federal prison and ordered her to pay $84,031 in restitution to Medicare.

The charge Diaconescu pleaded guilty to was punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

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“The defendant’s fraudulent conduct was a gross abuse of the trust that Medicare places on medical providers to accurately bill for the work they have done,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Hasten argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.

“All of the money paid by Medicare should have gone towards providing medical services to beneficiaries,” Hasten said.