BOSTON (AP) – A Maine urologist who cooperated with federal authorities after pleading guilty to health care fraud for billing insurance companies for free samples of a drug used to treat prostate cancer was sentenced Wednesday to one year of probation.

Dr. Joel Olstein, 58, of Lewiston was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner to pay a $20,000 fine.

Olstein received free samples of the drug Lupron from manufacturer TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. with the understanding that he would prescribe the samples and bill the patients’ health insurers between $400 and $550 for each sample, federal prosecutors said.

Olstein received 90 free samples from 1993 through at least July 1996, gave the samples to his patients, and submitted claims to their insurers totaling between $40,000 and $70,000, prosecutors said.

Olstein pleaded guilty in April 2001 and faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors recommended a lenient sentence for the assistance he provided in the investigations of TAP and AstraZeneca.

The investigations were resolved with corporate pleas and global settlement agreements with combined recoveries to the federal government of more than $1.2 billion.

At trial this summer, eight TAP employees were acquitted of charges that they offered kickbacks to doctors to boost sales of two of the company’s drugs.

Olstein is the fourth urologist to be convicted in connection with the investigation. Dr. Rodney Mannion, practicing in LaPorte and Michigan City, Indiana; Dr. Jacob Zamstein, practicing in Bloomfield, Conn.; and Dr. Joseph Spinella, practicing in Bristol, Conn., all pleaded guilty and all received probation for their cooperation.

AP-ES-10-06-04 2234EDT

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