2 Charged With Preying On Those Struggling With Addiction

BOSTON (AP) — Two men who authorities say took advantage of people struggling with opioid addiction by signing them up for false insurance policies and sending them to dubious out-of-state treatment facilities have been indicted on multiple charges, the Massachusetts attorney general's office said Friday.

Michael Hislop, 56, of Boston, and Timothy Hirsch, 38, of Pelham, New Hampshire, were indicted Monday on multiple counts each of larceny, filing a false health care application, and conspiracy.

“People with substance use disorder deserve quality treatment options that are safe and effective,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “As the opioid epidemic continues to plague our communities, we’re not going to let patients and their families be exploited and have their pain further compounded."

Hislop, when reached by The Boston Globe, said, “I was never involved in anything like that.” A voicemail message was left with Hirsch.

Hislop was paid commissions in 2016 when he worked as a “runner,” recruiting patients at Massachusetts substance abuse meetings for Florida treatment facilities, the attorney general's office said.

He conspired with Hirsch, an insurance agent, to write false and misleading insurance policies on the patients' behalf, the office said. The Florida facilities then billed insurance companies for treatment.

Two Massachusetts insurance companies paid out a total of about $730,000 in claims as a result, authorities said.

Once the policies were issued, Hislop paid for the patients' plane ticket to Florida and was responsible for paying the monthly insurance premiums, authorities said. But those premiums were not always paid, the insurance policies lapsed, and patients were often kicked out of treatment facilities or rushed through treatment to a sober home.

Some patients relapsed and were stranded in Florida with no way home, authorities said.

They are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 25 in Suffolk Superior Court.