Northern Alabama Doctor and Practice Manager Convicted for Conspiring to Unlawfully Distribute Opioids

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A Northern Alabama doctor and her husband, who also served as her practice manager, pleaded guilty today for their roles in unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances while the doctor was absent from the clinic.  

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona of the Northern District of Alabama, Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerly of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New Orleans Field Division, and Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. of the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office made the announcement.

Elizabeth Korcz, M.D., 47, a licensed physician, and Matthew Korcz, 47, her husband and former practice manager, both of Hoover, Alabama,  pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances.  As part of the plea, the defendants also agreed to forfeit $46,181.79. 

The defendants owned and operated Hoover Alt MD, a purported medical clinic with an in-house dispensary. As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants admitted to providing dangerous doses of hydrocodone to patients who were not first examined by a medical professional, and at times when Dr. Korcz was absent from their clinic.  The defendants did not employ registered nurses or other qualified medical professionals to examine patients, despite Dr. Korcz’s frequent absences.   According to the plea agreement, the defendants admitted to allowing hydrocodone to be dispensed from their in-house dispensary on multiple occasions when Dr. Korcz was out of state. 

Austin Haskew, 31, of Leeds, a pharmacy technician at Hoover Alt MD, pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. DEA and FBI investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Devon Helfmeyer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney J.B. Ward of the Northern District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force and the Health Care Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in October 2018, the ARPO Strike Force, which operates in 10 districts, has charged more than 85 defendants who are collectively responsible for distributing more than 65 million pills. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, wich maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more thatn 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for approximately $19 billion.  In addition, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-Office of Inspector General, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the number of fraudulent providers.  

Individuals who believe that they may be a victim of this crime should visit the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness website for more information.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.