Physician Charged in a $32 Million Illegal Opioid Distribution Conspiracy
An indictment was unsealed today charging the owner and sole practitioner of a medical clinic with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division, and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
Charged in the indictment is Dr. Afzal Beemath, 42, of Waterford
The indictment alleges that from January 2013 through October 2018, Dr. Afzal Beemath conspired with others to issue a large number of prescription opioids to recruited “patients” who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. Dr. Beemath operated Afzal Beemath, M.D., P.C., in Lathrup Village. Beemath only accepted cash at his clinic, and utilized the clinic to prescribe oxycodone and oxymorphone, two of the most addictive and diverted opioids that have a significant street value. Dr. Beemath, often-prescribed benzodiazepines in conjunction with the opioids, which when used together can be a lethal combination.
Patient recruiters brought supposed “patients” to the clinic to obtain medically unnecessary opioid prescriptions. The recruiters would then fill the prescriptions and sell the opioid pills on the street at a significant profit. According to the indictment, Dr. Beemath, issued more than1 million dosage units of Schedule II opioids during the course of the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value in excess of $32,000,000.
“The damage that opioid distribution has done to our community and to the United States as a whole has been devastating,” said U.S. Attorney Schneider. “Our aggressive prosecutions of opioid crimes continues to focus not just on street dealers, but also on medical professionals who choose to violate federal law and their Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm’.”
“Dr. Beemath illegally prescribed painkillers for no legitimate medical purpose. Putting corrupt medical professionals like him out of business is one of several steps we are taking to turn the tide on the opioid crisis that has caused so much death and heartbreak in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Detroit Division of the FBI. “The FBI remains committed to working alongside our partners to ensure that those who ignore the law, put people at risk and contribute to this crisis are held accountable.”
“Writing prescriptions without medical necessity and outside the scope of professional medical practice is illegal and further fuels the opioid epidemic” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The OIG will continue to focus our efforts on identifying and holding accountable those medical professionals who put their patient’s health and tax payer dollars at risk.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Regina R. McCullough, Brandy R. McMillion, and Andrew J. Lievense. The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the twelve districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative created by Attorney General Sessions, that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.
The case was investigated by special agents and task force officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.