JUNE 10 (FRESNO, Calif.) — On Thursday, a federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment against Terrill Eugene Brown, 61, of Visalia, charging him with conspiracy to dispense oxycodone, dispensing of oxycodone and hydrocodone, and structuring currency transactions to avoid bank reporting requirements, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan announced.
According to the indictment, Brown, a medical doctor, sold prescriptions for large quantities of highly addictive, frequently diverted prescription drugs, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, without medical necessity. Brown sold prescriptions to customers that did not have a legitimate medical purpose and were not in the usual course of his professional practice. Brown deposited the cash earned from this into different personal bank accounts in a manner designed to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements.
Oxycodone, also known as “oxy,” is a narcotic analgesic or painkiller and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Demand for oxycodone-based prescription pain medication has grown to epidemic proportions in the United States, and dealers profit by selling such medication on the street. Oxycodone-based Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, and users will often crush and snort the pills or dissolve and inject them to get an immediate high. This abuse can lead to addiction and overdose, and, sometimes death. Hydrocodone is an addictive prescription painkiller, the abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Hydrocodone is sold generically or under a variety of brand names, including Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Lortab, Lorcet, and Norco.
“Addiction to prescription painkillers is a very serious problem. Diversion of such drugs to the black market is a danger to public health,” stated U.S. Attorney Wagner. “The indictment alleges that the defendant prescribed thousands of highly addictive pills for his own personal profit and with complete disregard for where they would end up or who would take them.”
“The abuse of prescription pain killers and their illicit sale on our streets is a plague on our community. We hope to raise awareness of this epidemic and deter criminals from engaging in the illegal sale of prescription drugs,” said Fresno District Attorney Egan.
“Doctors are entrusted by the public to protect their health and the distribution of highly addictive prescription drugs without medical justification is a violation of that trust,” stated DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano. “DEA will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to stop prescription drug diversion and trafficking.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Medical Board of California, California Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Nathan Lambert, a Fresno County Deputy District Attorney sworn in as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen A. Servatius.
If convicted of the controlled substances crimes, Brown faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and if convicted for the structuring, he faces 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being brought as part of Operation Footprint, a nationwide law enforcement initiative led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Operation Footprint targets large drug trafficking organizations by identifying the transfer of drug proceeds through financial institutions, bulk cash smuggling and other forms of money transfers. Operation Footprint is focused on bringing criminal charges based on Bank Secrecy Act violations in addition to violations of the Controlled Substances Act and the Money Laundering Control Act. This case is also the product of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a focused multi-agency, multijurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
On April 11, 2013, a federal grand jury charged 13 defendants in an indictment that alleges that they obtained prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, and medical marijuana cards from a doctor in Modesto — Dr. Brown. They recruited other individuals to obtain prescriptions and marijuana cards from the doctor by offering them payments in return for the prescriptions and marijuana cards. After obtaining the oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, the defendants shipped the pills to other states.