May 6, 2010
AREA DOCTOR, PHARMACIST AND PHARMACY OWNER CHARGED IN CONSPIRACY TO ILLEGALLY DISTRIBUTE NARCOTICS
(HOUSTON) - Dr. Peter Okose, 56, Troy Solomon, 47, and Bede Nduka, 55, have been charged in a three-count indictment alleging conspiracy to unlawfully dispense and distribute controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
The indictment was returned by a Houston grand jury on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. All three defendants were arrested by investigating agents this morning and are expected to make their initial appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge in Houston today when the issue of bond is expected to be raised and decided.
Okose, a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Texas, was engaged in the private practice of medicine with two offices called the Universal Medical Clinic located on the 10200 block of the East Freeway and another on the 10200 block of Federal Road during the course of the alleged conspiracy. Solomon is the owner of Ascensia Nutritional Pharmacy located on the 5400 block of the S. Loop West, while Nduka, is a licensed pharmacist employed at Solomon’s pharmacy.
All three defendants are accused of conspiring to distribute prescription drugs, principally hydrocodone products, outside the course of professional medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose - knowing that some of the prescription drugs were to be sold on the street. They are alleged to have demanded and received payments in cash only from the persons receiving the prescriptions and filling the prescription to enrich themselves. Hydrocodone is an opiate derivative and a Schedule II controlled substance and generally used as a prescription painkiller. Hydrocodone products are prescription drugs containing hydrocodone and any other non-narcotic ingredient, such as acetaminophen or an antihistamine in therapeutic amounts, and are Schedule III controlled substances.
According to the allegations in the indictment, between January 2004 and May 2006, Okose routinely wrote prescriptions for prescription drugs, especially hydrocodone products, for persons who visited his office under the guise and pretext of being treated as patients. In actuality, the doctor knew they visited his office solely for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions for drugs some of which were to be sold on the street for a non-medical purpose. The doctor, according to the indictment, required and collected directly from these “patients” cash payments of $65 - $200 for the first time visit and approximately $65 - $100 for subsequent visits before he would write the prescriptions. Okose is also charged individually in two separate counts which allege that on May 4, 2005, and Oct. 7, 2005, he distributed tablets of hydrocodone outside the course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Solomon and Nduka are accused of conspiring with one another and Okose to dispense and distribute Hydrocodone products, such as Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Tussionex and Hydromet, each of which is a Schedule III Controlled Substance. According to the indictment, Solomon and Nduka enriched themselves by dispensing and distributing hydrocodone products outside the course of professional medical practice and not for legitimate medical purposes.
The indictment also includes a “Notice of Forfeiture” provision informing the defendants of the intent of the United States to forfeit their interest in any and all of the proceeds generated as a result of the alleged drug distribution.
Conviction of the drug conspiracy and each of the two drug distribution counts carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Parole has been abolished in the federal prison system.
The criminal charges are the result of a joint investigation being conducted by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division and officers of the Houston Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stuart A. Burns
An indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.
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