The United States Department of Justice announced on March 25, 2022 that a Texas physician was convicted for unlawfully prescribing more than one million pills of the opioid hydrocodone.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, James Pierre, 52, a Houston doctor, unlawfully prescribed controlled substances from June 2015 through July 2016 to individuals posing as patients at West Parker Medical Clinic (“West Parker”), a pill-mill clinic located in Houston.
Trial evidence showed that Pierre, along with his physician assistant, issued unlawful prescriptions for hydrocodone and carisoprodol, a combination of controlled substances known as the “Las Vegas Cocktail,” to hundreds of individuals posing as patients each week. So-called “runners” brought numerous people to pose as patients at West Parker and paid approximately $220 to $500 in cash for each visit that resulted in prescriptions for dangerous drugs. Throughout the scheme, West Parker made approximately $1,750,000 from prescriptions, and Pierre received over $300,000.
Pierre was convicted of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances and seven counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2022 and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
One co-conspirator has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances.
West Parker Medical Clinic was located just down the road from a former medical clinic owned by Dr. Michael D. Kim, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison on December 17, 2009 for engaging in a conspiracy to illegally distribute more than 1.7 million tablets of hydrocodone to drug users and addicts. Kim pleaded guilty under a plea agreement with the government which imposed a five-year term of imprisonment for the drug conspiracy conviction and a 10-year term of imprisonment for Kim’s previous convictions for conspiring to and defrauding the Medicare program.
From January 2005 through July 2008, many of Kim’s illegal prescriptions were filled by agreement with the pharmacist at Prime Pharmacy, which was located next door to Kim’s medical clinic at 477 West Parker Road in Houston and filled Kim’s prescriptions totaling 1,766,517 tablets of hydrocodone in a two-year period.
Kim was also sentenced for his role in an extensive Medicare fraud conspiracy that was one of the “motorized wheelchair fraud schemes” that were prevalent in the Greater Houston area from 2002 to 2004. Kim was previously convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program and 17 counts of health care fraud in a scheme to defraud Medicare of $29 million by a jury’s verdicts following trial in September 2008.
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