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A 73-year-old Livonia doctor was sentenced to eight years in prison for her role in illegally distributing prescription pills and defrauding Medicare, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dr. Fanny Dela Cruz was sentenced Tuesday after admitting that she wrote pre-signed prescriptions with her signature, the drug's name, milligram and quantity. For each prescription, she purposely omitted a patient's name and collected cash payments from others who would retrieve the drugs to sell on the street, officials said.

Over a 13-month period, Dela Cruz wrote fraudulent prescriptions for the following substances: 577,707 dosage units of Oxycodone HCl; 333,394 dosage units of Oxymorphone; 35,185 dosage units of Alprazolam and 663,778 milliliters of Promethazine with Codeine.

She was the state's number one prescriber of Oxycodone and Oxymorphone in 2015, officials said.

The doctor also defrauded Medicare by billing for doctor visits, tests, and costs associated with patient appointments she never conducted.

“More people die in America every year from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of all other drugs combined,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement Wednesday announcing Dela Cruz's sentence. “In addition, prescription drug addiction has led to resurgence in heroin use. Physicians who divert prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to this epidemic, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them.”

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

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