Two North Texas Doctors, One Nurse Sentenced to Prison for Federal Drug Trafficking Violations
PLANO, Texas – Three medical professionals have been sentenced to federal prison over the last week in the Eastern District of Texas for the illegal distribution of opioids and other pharmaceutical controlled substances, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.
Today in federal court in Plano, Howard Gregg Diamond, 58, of Sherman, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and 10 years in prison for health care fraud. The sentences, handed down by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone, follow Diamond’s guilty plea in October of 2018 and will run concurrently.
According to information presented in court, beginning in 2010, Diamond wrote prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxymorphone, methadone, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, and zolpidem, from his pain management medical offices in Sherman and Paris, Texas without a legitimate medical purpose. Specifically, on July 15, 2014, Diamond distributed or dispensed morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam and zolpidem to an individual that resulted in that individual’s death on July 25, 2014. In addition to the death of that patient, Judge Crone received information that six other overdose deaths were connected to prescriptions written by Diamond between 2010 and 2017. The health care fraud conviction resulted from Diamond submitting a claim for reimbursement to Medicare claiming he treated a Medicare patient on Sep. 29, 2015, although he was in another state at that time. Diamond was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 6, 2017.
On May 3, former Richardson doctor Tad W. Taylor, 64, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison by Judge Crone for conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, amphetamine salts, hydrocodone, alprazolam and promethazine with codeine. Taylor’s wife, Chia Jen Lee, also known as Chia Jen Lee-Taylor, a registered nurse, was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison for the same charge. Taylor and Lee had previously been convicted of the charges by a jury following a seven day trial in October of 2018.
According information presented at trial, during 2010 through 2012, Taylor and Lee owned and operated Taylor Texas Medicine, a medical clinic in Richardson, Texas. The defendants were convicted of conspiring to distribute large quantities of the above five drugs at their clinic without a legitimate medical need.
“This is the type of behavior that has resulted in the opioid crisis in this country,” said United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “The number of pills Dr. Diamond was prescribing was shocking. When doctors care more about the money they are making than anything else, people can die, and in his case, they did. The severity of the sentences for these doctors is the kind we see for dealers of large amounts of street drugs. And really, that is what these doctors became – just drug dealers.”
“The DEA has teams of investigators who work to identify doctors who over-write prescriptions, potentially causing addiction and overdoses,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Clyde E. Shelley, Jr. of the Dallas Field Division. “We will continue to investigate doctors who practice in this manner.”
“Opioid fraud schemes result in staggering numbers of addicted patients, overdoses, and deaths of individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Special Agent in Charge CJ Porter of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “Working in concert with our law enforcement partners, our agents will continue to pursue and prosecute corrupt physicians, like Dr. Howard Diamond, who contribute to this devastating national opioid epidemic. Dr. Diamond’s lengthy and meaningful sentence, as a result of his depraved indifference to patients he was entrusted to care for, should serve notice to others who would replicate this type of illegal conduct, that they risk severe consequences.”
"The plea and sentencing of Dr. Howard Diamond underscores the threat posed by this physician,” said FBI Dallas Acting Special Agent in Charge, Michael Schneider. “Diamond leveraged his medical privilege and blatantly violated the doctor's oath for personal financial gain at the expense of his patients. The FBI has made it a priority to proactively identify and bring others like him to justice who willingly engage in criminal activity, specifically over prescribing opioids to the detriment of patients they promised to help and not harm. Diamond was prosecuted because of great law enforcement partnerships that are investigating opiate abuse in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex."
The case against Diamond was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Sherman Police Department, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Office of the Attorney General. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Rattan and Maureen Smith.
The cases against Taylor and Lee were investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Desoto Police Department, and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stevan A. Buys and Jonathan R. Hornok.