In January, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas issued a press release announcing that arrests had been made in what was dubbed as the “Dallas Pill Mill”. U.S. Attorney John Parker stated that the arrests were in relation to a conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances. The drugs involved included oxycodone and hydrocodone. In September, pharmacist Kumi Frimpong pleads guilty.
Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, special agents arrested Dr. Richard Andrews, co-owner of McAllen Medical Clinic, pharmacist Ndufola Kigham, owner and operator of GenPharm Pharmacy, pharmacist Kumi Frimpong, owner and operator of Cornerstone Pharmacy, and a number of others that were involved in the conspiracy Andrews, Kigham and Frimpong were forced to surrender their DEA registration numbers and their stock of controlled substances as a result of their arrest.
According to the press release, during January 2013 through July 2014, the individuals arrested were distributing drugs with the intent to distribute, rather than for any legitimate medical purpose. The defendants are alleged to have recruited homeless and low income people by paying them a small fee to pose as patients to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone. The prescriptions were then taken to designated pharmacies to be filled. The prescription ringleaders would then obtain the drugs from the drivers that took the hired recruits to the clinic and, in many cases, to the designated pharmacy. During the time period involved, over 150,000 oxycodone pills were distributed.
The defendants, if found guilty, could face up to 24 years in prison and over $1 million in fines.
On September 7, 2016, the DEA issued another press release announcing that Frimpong had entered a guilty plea. As a part of the plea bargaining, Frimpong agreed to surrender the $41,112 proceeds that he made from the Pill Mill operation. His sentencing date is set for December.
As a result of the DEA operation, a total of 31 individuals were charged in the scheme. Many have pled guilty and several have already been sentenced. The DEA expects that there may be more guilty pleas entered in the coming weeks.
The September press release indicated that the investigation was conducted by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that included the DEA with assistance from a number of other agencies. Those agencies included police forces from Louisiana and Texas, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshalls Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Diplomatic Security Service.
It seems that pharmaceutical companies, physicians and other professionals in the medical industry have been in the news more and more. My backward belief that medical professionals were in their trades to help people has been shattered in recent years. Their only interest seems to be making a dollar any way they can, regardless of the effect on the people they pledged to care for when they entered their profession. I still believe there are those out there who actually do their best, but there appears to a large number of bad apples among them.