PHYSICIANS PLEAD GUILTY TO UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
Oxycodone and Demerol Abused
In separate criminal cases, Doctors LAWRENCE L. PARRIS and LAWRENCE J. GOGENOLA, board certified Washington physicians, appeared today in federal district court in Seattle and entered guilty pleas to unlawful possession of a controlled substance in violation of federal law. This offense is punishable by up to one year in prison, a hundred thousand dollar fine, and a period of supervised release of up to one year. The court is also required to impose a mandatory fine of $1,000, and may assess the defendant the reasonable costs of investigation and prosecution of the offense.
Court documents indicate that during 2007, Dr. PARRIS, 57 years of age, was a Washington licensed medical doctor employed at Inglewood Family Health, a family health clinic in Bothell, Washington. Between January 2007, through August 2007, Dr. PARRIS unlawfully removed from the clinic and possessed for his own unlawful use, quantities of meperidine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in the form of injectable Demerol, which he then consumed. This occurred on multiple occasions during 2007. Dr. PARRIS knew that what he was doing was wrong and that he was not authorized to divert such medicines from the clinic. Further, such drugs were not possessed by Dr. PARRIS pursuant to any lawful prescription. Dr. PARRIS concealed his conduct by making false entries in patient records indicating that the drugs had been dispensed and administered to patients, whereas in fact they had been diverted to his own use.
In October 2007, during an interview with DEA investigators, Dr. PARRIS admitted unlawfully taking Demerol from the clinic on at least 4 to 6 occasions during 2007. Dr. PARRIS has surrendered his DEA registration to authorities and is participating in drug treatment.
Court documents indicate that during 2007, Dr. GOGENOLA, 58 years of age, was a Washington licensed and Board Certified dermatologist employed at Bellevue Dermatology Clinic in Bellevue, Washington. Between April 2007 through December 2007, on a monthly basis, Dr. GOGENOLA wrote prescriptions for 50 pill quantities of Percocet, containing oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, in the name of a third individual who was not a patient of Dr. GOGENOLA. Dr. GOGENOLA wrote such prescriptions with the intent of unlawfully acquiring the drugs himself. On each occasion, Dr. GOGENOLA then traveled to a QFC Pharmacy in Bellevue, Washington, where he presented the prescriptions to the pharmacy claiming to be the third party in whose name the prescriptions were written. Between April and December, the pharmacy filled the prescriptions, delivering to Dr. GOGENOLA quantities of oxycodone, which Dr. GOGENOLA then unlawfully consumed.
On December 21, 2007, Dr. GOGENOLA again presented such a prescription at the pharmacy. This time the duty pharmacist asked for identification. Dr. GOGENOLA left the pharmacy without producing any identification and the prescription was not filled. QFC Pharmacy attempted to contact Dr. GOGENOLA at his clinic to explain what had happened in regard to one of his patients. In reviewing the web site for the dermatology clinic, the duty pharmacist realized that the person who had presented the prescription in the name of the third party on December 21, 2007, and left without producing identification, was Dr. GOGENOLA himself.
In January 2008, during an interview with DEA Investigators, Dr. GOGENOLA acknowledged unlawfully writing all of the prescriptions in the name of the third party, and then consuming the drugs.
Dr. GOGENOLA has surrendered his DEA registration to authorities and is participating in drug treatment.
Sentencing for Dr. PARRIS is scheduled for August 27, 2008, before United States Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue in Seattle, Washington. Sentencing for Dr. GOGENOLA is scheduled for August 25, 2008, also before United States Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue in Seattle, Washington.
National statistics show an increasing level of diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances. Oxycodone and Demerol are both highly addictive controlled substances. The unlawful possession and diversion of such substances by individuals – be it by patients, non-patients, or by health care professionals, contributes to this escalating problem, poses a danger to the user and to others, and constitutes a violation of federal law.
This case is part of a continuing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation focused upon the unlawful diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances within the Western District of Washington and elsewhere.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.