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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts New Bern Medical Doctor for Unlawfully Distributing Oxycodone, Money Laundering and Tax Evasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

NEW BERN – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, SANJAY KUMAR, 53 of New Bern, North Carolina, was convicted after a 26-day jury trial before United States District Judge Louise Wood Flanagan.  The jury found KUMAR, who was a licensed medical doctor at the time of the offenses, guilty of five (5) counts of Unlawful Distribution of Oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, five (5) counts of Money Laundering by Concealment, and three (3) counts of Attempt to Evade and Defeat Tax.

The evidence at trial showed that KUMAR was a licensed medical doctor who operated a sports medicine and rehabilitation practice in New Bern, North Carolina from 2004 until June 21, 2016, when his ability to prescribe controlled substances was limited by the North Carolina Medical Board.  The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Charlotte-based Tactical Diversion Squad began investigating KUMAR when they were notified by local pharmacies about the number and frequency with which KUMAR was writing prescriptions for opioid narcotics.  A multi-agency investigation was initiated in early 2014 by the DEA, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Bern Police Department. 

At trial, the evidence showed that KUMAR prescribed oxycodone and other controlled substances with little or no medical examination.  Multiple witnesses testified that KUMAR operated a cash-only practice, there was no additional staff in the office, and the patients received a prescription from KUMAR at every visit without distinction based on their history of prior medications, prior treatment, and medical diagnoses.  The evidence showed that KUMAR wrote approximately 9,500 opioid prescriptions between the years of 2011 to 2016. 

KUMAR is scheduled to be sentenced in January of 2020.   

Mr. Higdon stated:  “The United States Department of Justice is aggressively moving against all individuals who illegally distribute opioids and prescription drugs.  Whether those illegally pushing these drugs are on the street or operating from a doctor’s office, we will pursue you, charge you and convict you for the crimes that are putting our citizens at risk.”

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad.  Assistance was also provided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), the New Bern Police Department, the State Bureau of Investigation, Diversion and Environmental Crime Unit, and the Craven County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Adam Hulbig and Nick Miller represented the government in this case. 

Updated August 12, 2019

Prescription Drugs