Austin Area Doctor Indicted On Federal Drug Charges
In Austin this morning, 47-year-old Richard Edward Sofinowski surrendered to federal authorities to face federal drug trafficking charges announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent In Charge Steven S. Whipple, Houston Division.
A three–count federal grand jury indictment returned on last Tuesday charges Sofinowski, an Austin psychiatrist, and his co-defendant, 42-year-old Arza Demi of Austin, with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines and other controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice as well as two substantive drug distribution counts. Authorities allege that Sofinowski, with assistance from Arza, was responsible for doling out more than 400 prescriptions involving a variety of potent narcotic pain medications in exchange for methamphetamine and U.S. Currency.
The indictment also includes a request for a monetary judgment in the amount of $1 million representing the proceeds derived from the alleged criminal activity.
“Prescription drug abuse has become increasingly prevalent in the community, and it is especially serious when a licensed medical professional violates his professional duties as well as federal law in illegally dispensing controlled substances. If Dr. Sofinowski is found guilty of writing prescriptions for narcotics in violation of the law as charged by the grand jury, he will face serious consequences for enabling others’ dependence on drugs,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Sofinowski was released on a personal recognizance bond during his initial appearance today. Demi remains in federal custody after her detention hearing, originally scheduled for this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin, was continued.
Upon conviction, each defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
This investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion group in Austin. Assistant United States Attorney Mark Marshall is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.