Man poses as physician at pill mill writing opioid prescriptions with two co-conspirators.
A 61-year-old man from Katy, Texas, accused of posing as a physician at the unregistered Aster Medical Clinic, has been found guilty for running a “pill mill,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). After a five-day trial, a jury found Muhammad Arif guilty of “one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances and three counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances.”
Federal investigators said, “From September 2015 through February 2016, Aster Medical Clinic dispensed prescriptions for more than 200,000 dosage units of hydrocodone, a schedule II controlled substance, and over 145,000 dosage units of carisoprodol, a schedule IV controlled substance” and according to the evidence against the false-physician, Arif “conspired with a doctor and the owner of Aster Medical Clinic in Rosenberg, Texas, to run an illegal pill mill.”
Thirty-six search warrants were served on 15 pharmacies, six pill mill clinics, and fifteen other offices and residences in an effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to stop the opioid distribution networks.
The “pill mill” pharmacy allegedly dispensed the ninth highest amount of oxycodone in the nation, which was the second-most in the entire state of Texas. “One hundred percent of the oxycodone dispended by this pharmacy – every single oxycodone pill that left the premises – was in the highest available dosage strength of that drug.” the DOJ said.
While Arif evidently had a licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., he posed as a physician at Aster, taking patients as if he actually were a doctor at the facility and writing addictive opioid prescriptions on prescription pads pre-signed by his co-conspirator. Aster Medical Clinic wrote illegal prescriptions for controlled substances to more than four dozen people on its busiest days, court documents show.
Two co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty. Baker Niazi, 48, of Sugar Land, Texas, and Waleed Khan, 47, of Parker, Texas.
The DOJ said “crew leaders recruited numerous people to pose as patients at Aster Medical Clinic and paid for their visits in order to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances that the crew leaders would then sell on the street. The clinic charged roughly $250 for each patient visit and required payment in cash.”
“Opioid abuse has a devastating and far reaching effect on our society,” said Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “The doctors, nurses and pharmacists in this case allegedly misused their positions, violating the trust of the public they took an oath to serve. Together with their co-conspirators, these medical professionals released millions of highly addictive drugs onto the streets of our community. FBI Houston remains committed to working alongside our federal, state, and local partners to combat this epidemic and protect our neighborhoods.”
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick said, “These clinics are all about money and not the patient,” he said. “If it was about the patient, no legitimate doctor would write, and no legitimate pharmacy would fill, these massive amounts and combinations of controlled substances. Pill mills are magnets for crime and should be eradicated…these grifters are wasting taxpayer money and making healthcare more expensive for everyone else.”