A 77-year-old physician, a 51-year-old pharmacist, and a 63-year-old man described as a patient recruiter, all of whom are Houston, Texas residents, were sentenced to federal prison on April 3, 2017 for their respective roles in an illegal conspiracy involving prescription oxycodone pills in the Houston, Texas area. All three defendants had previously pled guilty to their involvement in the illegal scheme.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, the federal judge sentenced the physician to 60 months in federal prison, the pharmacist to 45 months, and the “recruiter” to 38 years in federal prison. The physician and pharmacist were allowed to remain free on bond and to voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility on dates to be determined in the near future while the recruiter remains in federal custody.
The Physician’s Involvement
The defendant physician reportedly was responsible for illicitly issuing prescriptions for oxycodone that resulted in more than 32,000 pills of 30-milligram-strength oxycodone being dispensed in March and April 2014. The physician was aware that his prescriptions were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose and, on many occasions, he pre-signed prescriptions knowing that they would be used by others to acquire and sell oxycodone pills for profit.
The Pharmacist’s Involvement
The defendant pharmacist reportedly agreed to fill three prescriptions, each for 120 pills of 30-milligram strength oxycodone, on April 8, 2014, for which she was paid in cash for filling the prescriptions.
The Recruiter’s Involvement
The third defendant admitted that he was a “recruiter” who would take so-called patients to pharmacies to get the prescriptions filled. He also admitted that he sold the oxycodone pills for profit on the street. Evidence showed that the recruiter illegally acquired over 1,000 pills in March and April of 2014.
On February 13, 2017, a 72-year-old Houston physician was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for distributing large amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone after he was convicted on July 27, 2016 on all 19 criminal counts filed against him. His co-defendant, a 78-year-old pharmacist, pled guilty on the first day of trial.
The physician was charged with distributing oxycodone and hydrocodone to patients from Louisiana and other states, outside the course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He allegedly charged patients between $200 and $240 in cash for an initial office visit, at which time they would obtain a first prescription, and were told they could obtain a new prescription in 30 days and a third prescription in 30 days, without an office visit, as long as they sent a money order to him for the same amount each time. The patients were directed to the pharmacy that his co-defendant owned.
The defendants were alleged to have conspired to distribute approximately 1.6 million dosage units of oxycodone in a two-year-period that involved approximately $2.4 million (the oxycodone pills sold for approximately $40 each on the street).
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