A former Bettendorf doctor taken into custody last week will remain behind bars.

Dr. Paul Bolger pleaded guilty to more than a dozen federal charges back in 2017. 

They were related to health care fraud. 

Bolger has been behind bars since last week after a judge ruled he had violated terms of his bond by dispensing controlled substances from locations other than his Davenport office.

This morning, Bolger appeared before another judge for his federal sentencing. 

The judge ruled that Bolger will spend two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Bolger told the judge Friday that he left the emergency department at UnityPoint Health after facing burnout and trauma, describing dreams of dead babies. 

The defense called a witness, Dr. Rhonda Sowards, who had worked with Bolger and described noticing a difference in the doctor’s character due to that trauma around 2014. 

“It was sad, difficult to watch,” Sowards said.

“He was a picture of burnout,” she said.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Lang says facing mounting bills and an offer from a marketing company to sign off on online prescriptions, Bolger took the deal. 

Prosecutors say Bolger signed off on more than 30 prescriptions a day during a two-month period without ever meeting any of the patients.

They say he made $50 to $75 for each script.

He would make about seven dollars in a normal practice. 

Once filled, special pharmacies called “compounding pharmacies” would complete the customized prescriptions for veterans. 

Pharmacies would then bill TRICARE, a military health benefit system, at high markups. 

Lang says one prescription signed by Bolger, for example, cost about $50, but the pharmacy billed TRICARE for nearly $6,000. 

Bolger signed 1,375 prescriptions for military service members in different states. 

Lang says Bolger never knew the government was getting billed that much.

“If you saw the hearing, you know that Dr. Bolger admitted he made a mistake. He made a couple of mistakes and he’s deeply sorry for that,” Lang tells Local 4 News. 

The judge acknowledged that Bolger may not have known the extent of the fraud scheme, but Bolger didn’t seem to care, either, as he continued signing prescriptions that he knew would be filled.

The judge called it a “massive fraud. It was longstanding, it was lucrative.” 

He also said TRICARE shares part of the blame for being negligent. 

The U.S. Attorney says Bolger’s actions contributed to TRICARE losing $3.4 million. 

Bolger addressed the courtroom with a prepared statement, tearing up as he expressed his shame and regret for what he’d done. 

“I should’ve stopped and done my due dilligence but I didn’t. I wish I never heard of tele-medicine. I can’t believe I let this get out of hand,” Bolger said.  

Bolger shutdown his clinics last week after being arrested for breaking bond terms. 

His patients haven’t heard anything about how to get their money back.

We spoke with one woman last week who put down more than $6,000 for a procedure she never got.   

We asked Lang what happens now with that money.

“Well, I would tell them that it’s standard for physicians who are doing elective-types of procedures to require payment in advance. The timing of this [arrest] was unexpected, totally unexpected, and Dr. Bolger is deeply concerned about how all this has affected his patients,” Lang said.

Bolger’s attorney says he doesn’t know what the timeline is as far as what will happen for those patients. 

He also tells us he’s not sure yet whether Bolger will want to appeal this sentencing.