New York has strict laws in place to regulate how doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals prescribe and dispense certain medications. In particular, opioid prescriptions are likely to draw the scrutiny of the authorities due to the increased attention to this controlled substance on a national level.

According to Pix11 News, the New York Police Department recently worked with Drug Enforcement Administration agents to arrest five doctors, a nurse practitioner and a pharmacist for alleged illegal activities related to oxycodone.

Alleged activities

The alleged activities of some of these medical professionals included prescribing oxycodone to patients without performing adequate medical exams to determine whether the medication was necessary. According to reports, many patients had visible symptoms of substance use disorder. 

Investigators found that one of the doctors prescribed more oxycodone than any other physician in New York, based on records from Medicaid and Medicare. Other doctors allegedly only accepted cash for office visits, which they then ran through a money laundering scheme. 

Because pharmacists often question doctors who prescribe large amounts of oxycodone, doctors allegedly warned patients against visiting chain pharmacies. One pharmacist faces more than a dozen charges of distributing controlled substances for knowingly filling illegitimate prescriptions in exchange for cash.

Charges

Primary allegations against these medical professionals include illegal distribution of a controlled substance. Some alleged offenders face multiple charges of distribution of a controlled substance.

Several conspiracy charges also exist, including the following:

  • Distributing a controlled substance
  • Committing health care fraud
  • Committing money laundering

Making false statements and aggravated identity theft were among the charges against one of the doctors.

Penalties

A single charge of distribution of a controlled substance comes with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and many conspiracy convictions can also result in 10 to 20 years in prison. The potential penalties for each of the medical professionals indicted in these cases could be decades in prison. However, judges often have some leeway in sentencing. A solid criminal defense strategy may help those who face these types of charges receive considerably less than the maximum penalties.