Former WellSpan doctor pleads guilty to fraud for opioid prescriptions

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A former WellSpan doctor who authorities said wrote more than 200 bogus prescriptions for narcotics has pleaded guilty in federal court.

Charles J. Gartland, 59, of Cochranville, Chester County, pleaded guilty Feb. 27, to one count each of health care fraud and obtaining a controlled substance by deception, according to federal court records.

Charles Gartland

A sentencing date has not yet been set, according to Dawn Mayko, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg. She said Gartland remains free pending sentencing.

York attorney Daniel Pell, who represents the doctor, confirmed Gartland's medical license is suspended.

Gartland's legal troubles were caused by his addiction to opioids, according to Pell.

"He's a good guy," Pell said. "I've talked to former patients ... (and) he's done a lot of good things for people. But he violated federal law."

Gartland was indicted in federal court Nov. 29.

He is accused of writing 221 prescriptions between September 2014 and August 2017. The prescriptions were for hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and other controlled substances, according to the news release from Mayko.

Personal use: Gartland wrote the prescriptions in the names of three family members, but the pills were all for his use, Mayko has said.

According to officials, Gartland filled the prescriptions at five pharmacies in York, Lancaster and Chester counties. WellSpan and Medicare were defrauded when the organizations paid claims submitted by the pharmacies for the prescriptions, the release states.

Of the 221 prescriptions, 194 were for hydrocodone-ibuprofen pills — 17,187 of them, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dan Carrigan, spokesman for WellSpan Health, said Gartland worked as an internal medicine physician from 2011 until 2017.

More:Doctors’ offices a front line in opioid battle

More:Opioid companies sued by York County no strangers to lawsuits, settlements

Suspended, fired: "In August he was placed on leave based on concerns that he was writing prescriptions outside the scope at WellSpan," Carrigan said in December.

Carrigan said WellSpan officials told law enforcement about their concerns at that time, and the organization has been cooperating with officials since then.

Gartland was terminated Nov. 17, he said.

Health care fraud is punishable in federal court by up to 10 years in prison, while obtaining a controlled substance by deception is punishable by up to four years in prison, according to Mayko.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.