Doctor who described himself as 'El Chapo of Opioids' pleads guilty to fraud

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A New Jersey doctor who authorities say referred to himself as the "El Chapo of Opioids" has pleaded guilty to a health care claims fraud charge.

Robert Delagente, 45, now faces five years in federal prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 10.

Federal prosecutors have said the Oakland man, whose practice was based in that town, prescribed opioids for patients without seeing them and often allowed them to choose their own dosage.

Delagente was also accused of altering medical records to hide his activities and submitting insurance claims for services he never provided.

“When doctors cheat the insurance system, they’re committing a crime that drives up the cost of healthcare for everyone, including the patients they took an oath to serve,” said state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in a statement.

Authorities say Delagente didn't monitor whether his patients were becoming addicted to the painkillers.

Officials say that anyone can anonymously report suspected insurance fraud by calling 1-877-55-FRAUD.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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