Dr. Eugene Gosy’s native Hungary was just one of the stops on a busy travel schedule three years ago.
The Williamsville neurologist also visited Moscow, Berlin and St. Thomas. And Athens, Istanbul and Ukraine a year later.
The problem, according to federal prosecutors, is that on the same days Gosy was out of town, he was billing the state workers compensation system for patient visits at his office on College Parkway.
And he did it more than 2,000 times in four years, they say.
Gosy, one of the state’s busiest chronic pain specialists, has not been charged with a crime, but a recent forfeiture action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office provides a glimpse into the allegations against him.
The action, the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Health Care Fraud Task Force, led to the seizure in September of two of Gosy’s cars – a $126,000 Ferrari and a $103,000 Ford GT Coupe.
Prosecutors claim Gosy’s false claims total more than $241,000.
Defense lawyer Joel L. Daniels said he could not comment on the seizure, but court papers indicate the potential charges against his client range from fraud to money laundering.
For the Hungarian-born Gosy, 55, the allegations represent a potential black mark in a career that, over more than two decades, has made him one of the state’s best known pain management specialists.
“I saw the need and found that helping someone in pain is extremely rewarding,” he said in a 2011 interview.
A former resident at Millard Fillmore Hospital and the University at Buffalo, Gosy opened his own practice in 1999. The practice expanded four years later when he opened Gosy & Associates Pain and Neurology Treatment Center on College Parkway. His medical staff includes two doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
By 2011, Gosy’s practice, thanks in part to referrals from 2,700 other doctors, had grown to the point where he was the leading prescriber of controlled substances in New York State, according to health officials.
Gosy said his center may also be the largest in the state in terms of patients and should be viewed as a “model” for helping people with debilitating chronic pain.
In an op-ed story written for The Buffalo News last year, he said it’s almost impossible to overstate the extent of the chronic pain problem in the United States.
“Critics forget about the individual tragedies behind each chronic pain case,” he said. “Whether it’s a person agonizing from cancer, fibromyalgia, migraines or sports injuries, they need and deserve treatment to help eliminate or at least minimize their pain so they can function as close to normally as possible.”
The first hint of Gosy’s legal problems came in September of last year, when the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies raided his Williamsville office and left with several boxes of material.
A few months later, prosecutors filed a forfeiture complaint demanding Gosy’s two luxury cars and outlining their allegations against him.
They claim Gosy’s credit cards, bank accounts and airline records indicate he was out of town at the same time he claimed to be treating patients here. They also claim to have proof of 2,212 false claims for the four years ending in late 2013.
They also claim Gosy signed the claims and then used part of the proceeds from them to purchase the Ferrari and Ford GT Coupe. The doctor denies the allegations.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have declined to comment on the investigation but court papers indicate the government’s interest in Gosy is due, at least in part, to his workers compensation billings, not his treatment of patients.
In contrast, several other local doctors have found themselves investigated and subsequently charged with illegally dispensing painkillers such as oxycodone.
One of the first, Dr. Pravin V. Mehta of Niagara Falls, 77, took a plea deal in which he admitted doling out illegal pain medication from late 2007 to early 2011, when he was arrested.
Another doctor, Matthew A. Bennett of North Tonawanda, also admitted illegally handing out painkillers. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
There is nothing in the court papers to suggest that Gosy illegally handed out prescription drugs. The doctor, in fact, was very public about his use of painkillers in treating patients after Mehta’s arrest.
“Pain clinics like ours are like magnets for prescription drug abusers,” he said at the time. “We are known to be scrupulous, compassionate and strict.”
Gosy said he became even more vigilant after Mehta’s arrest and after the state tightened regulations on prescription opioid painkillers.