University News

Villarreal ’01 MD’05 charged with drug fraud

Senior Staff Writer
Saturday, August 13, 2011

A recent graduate of Alpert Medical School was charged with forging and illegally distributing prescriptions for drugs, including Vicodin, Adderall and Percocet, at Rhode Island Hospital.

Robert Villarreal ’01 MD’05, an orthopedic surgeon, faces charges of forgery, drug distribution and conspiracy. Villarreal and federal prosecutors are currently working to reach a plea agreement, according to an Aug. 23 report by WPRI. Villarreal had previously appeared in federal court Aug. 3 and was released on a $50,000 bond, according to the Providence Journal.

Villarreal is accused of forging signatures of several acquaintances and using several people to fill prescriptions on his behalf on at least 50 occasions between October 2009 and May 2011, according to a court affidavit filed by Special Agent Todd Prough of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Villarreal’s assistant, Gary Menissian, allegedly aided Villarreal.

In the affidavit, Prough said Villarreal admitted to using up to 20 Adderall pills in a day and occasionally performing surgery while under the influence of drugs.

Villarreal is also charged with distributing medications to eight other hospital employees, according to the Providence Journal.

Both Villarreal and Menissian have lost their hospital privileges. In a statement released Aug. 3, hospital officials said Villarreal was always under supervision while performing surgery.

The hospital will cooperate in the investigation, said Gail Carvelli, a hospital spokeswoman.

After graduating from Alpert Medical School, Villarreal completed a residency at Rhode Island Hospital, where he also finished a trauma and orthopedic fellowship in June.

Until recently, the University’s directory listed Villarreal as an administrator in the Division of Biology and Medicine. In an email to The Herald, Mark Nickel, Brown’s interim director of news and communications, called the listing “a professional and collegial courtesy” during Villarreal’s training at Rhode Island hospital. Villarreal was not an administrator, but had access to some University services, such as libraries and email, due to his affiliation with the Med School.