Doctor Sentenced in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
SEP 04 -- NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DR. JOSEPH BRAUD, age 82, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced in federal court yesterday by U. S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon to a 30 month term of imprisonment, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. In addition, BRAUD was required to forfeit $500,000.00 to the Government and be placed on three years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment, during which time the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should he violate any terms of his supervised release.
According to court documents, on May 27, 2009, BRAUD pled guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense controlled substances. BRAUD was charged in a 17-count indictment along with co-defendants Candace Wilson, Monica Jones, Thadrian Johnson, Ples Dobbins, Deshawn Whatley, Jimmie Lee Winters, and Joshua Williams, with conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense controlled substances, illegal distribution and dispensation of controlled substances, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Candace Wilson and her sister, Monica Jones, established Stanton Trinity Medical Group, Inc., Maximum Pain Management, LLC, and Reddi Care Ambulatory Clinic, LLC, pain management clinics in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wilson, Jones, Dobbins, and Johnson (a pharmacist) also opened a pharmacy, Southern Discount Drugs, to service the customers of Stanton Trinity Medical Group. The clinics offered patients “pain management” by writing prescriptions that were not for legitimate medical purposes and not within the bounds of professional medical practice. In some instances, controlled substances and/or prescriptions for controlled substances were distributed without the recipient seeing a physician. In essence, the clinics and pharmacy were “pill mills.”
During the conspiracy, BRAUD was employed as a physician at Stanton Trinity Medical Group in New Orleans and following Hurricane Katrina at Maximum Pain Management in Lafayette, Louisiana. The clinics only accepted cash for medical services. The cost of a doctor visit was determined by the type of controlled substances the patient wanted. The cost of the visit was higher for patients who obtained prescriptions for Schedule II drugs than for patients who obtained Schedule III drugs. Patients regularly requested and paid for the type of drugs they wanted before being seen by a doctor.
BRAUD illegally prescribed controlled substances such as Oxycontin, Methadone and Hydrocodone without determining a sufficient medical necessity for the controlled substances. Patients were not required to provide adequate histories nor were diagnostic tests ordered or performed. He did not communicate or maintain records of communication with prior physicians. No alternative therapies were ever attempted beyond a very limited combination of highly addictive medications, including opiates, muscle relaxants and sedatives. BRAUD prescribed quantities and combinations of controlled substances and other drugs to patients that would cause patients to abuse, misuse and become addicted to controlled substances.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigations, and Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tracey Knight and Bill McSherry.