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Billings doctor pleads guilty to prescription-drug kickback scheme on Montana reservation

Posted at 3:58 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 15:25:59-04

A former Indian Health Services doctor from Billings pleaded guilty Thursday to improperly prescribing a diabetes drug in exchange for kickbacks, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Dr. Arnold Scott Devous, 68, pleaded guilty in Great Falls federal court to being a federal medical officer with conflict of interest. He faces a maximum five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Devous solicited multiple pharmacies in Montana to fill expensive prescriptions for Farxiga, a diabetes drug, from December 2015 through June 2016. In return, Devous received a cut of the profits for sales of the drugs, which is illegal for government workers, according to Alme.

At the time, Devous was chief medical officer for the Indian Health Services on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning.

Devous was paid $45,540 over six months from one pharmacy in Choteau. He hid the money by sending it to his wife and a prospective business associate, according to Alme.

Devous previously served as director of the Crow-Northern Cheyenne Hospital but was fired in 2010 after tribal leaders discovered he he had three felony drug convictions in 1985 for prescribing narcotics for his own use and bad record keeping.

According to the tribes, Devous' medical license was revoked in the 1980s in Montana, Wyoming and California. His license was reinstated in Montana in 1989, but it wasn't immediately clear if he will be required to surrender it because of this most recent incident.

Related: Billings doctor accused in drug kickback scheme on Montana reservation