Medical Director at a “Pill Mill” Sentenced to Federal Prison for Distributing Oxycodone Without a Medical Need
Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Daniel Alexander, age 53, of Pikesville, Maryland today to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam. Chief Judge Blake also ordered Alexander to forfeit $30,000.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“Physician Daniel Alexander prescribed opioid drugs to people who had no medical need for the drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “In doing so, he violated his medical oath and distributed misery instead of medicine. Pharmaceutical pills can be just as harmful as illegal drugs when they are prescribed without a legitimate medical purpose.”
According to his plea agreement and court documents, in March 2011, co-defendants Michael Resnick, Alina Margulis and Gerald Wiseberg opened Healthy Life in Owings Mills, Maryland as a purported pain management clinic. Healthy Life later moved to a larger space in Timonium, Maryland, until it closed on May 15, 2012. Both Healthy Life locations attracted large and unruly crowds. Customers caused disturbances outside the locations, used narcotics inside the clinic itself, and engaged in narcotics transactions in the parking lot. Over 80% of the customers of Healthy Life were from out of state.
Wiseberg hired physician William Crittenden to serve as the medical director at Healthy Life because Wiseberg believed that Crittenden would write prescriptions for narcotics to customers without a legitimate medical need. Crittenden resigned as the medical director in August 2011, when the Maryland Board of Physicians—the agency authorized to issue licenses to practice medicine in Maryland and to discipline licensees—initiated an investigation into his prescribing practices. This investigation ultimately led the Maryland Board of Physicians to suspend Crittenden’s medical license.
In September 2011, Resnick, Margulis and Wiseberg hired Alexander because they believed that Alexander would likewise write drug prescriptions to customers without a legitimate medical need. Specifically, Margulis told Alexander that Healthy Life only prescribed pills and did not offer any alternative therapies.
In order to increase profits, Alexander spent a limited amount of time with each patient so that he could see a very large number of patients each day. Indeed, the owners nicknamed Alexander “Speedy Gonzalez” because of the rapidity with which he processed patients seeking narcotics. From September 2011 to March 2012, Alexander issued prescriptions to 627 patients on 946 separate office visits. Of those 946 visits, the customer received a prescription for oxycodone 97% of the time, and a prescription for alprazolam 23% of the time, despite Alexander’s knowledge that many of the customers did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. In a few instances, Alexander prescribed oxycodone to customers who he simultaneously discharged from Healthy Life, based on indications they were abusing illicit drugs. Alexander was paid $150 per hour, and received a total of $30,000 for his activities in the scheme.
Resnick, Margulis and Wiseberg, who were not doctors, established the standard operating procedures for Healthy Life, including which drugs the prescribing physician could prescribe and the maximum dosage amounts of these drugs. Healthy Life accepted cash payments in exchange for providing prescriptions for large amounts of oxycodone, alprazolam and other drugs, to customers who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs.
To maximize profits, they also encouraged the prescribing physicians to prescribe the maximum amount of oxycodone to each customer; and established that prescriptions would be written for 28-day cycles as opposed to 30-day cycles. Additionally, Margulis and Resnick handled complaints by Healthy Life customers who were unhappy with the prescriptions they received, particularly when a medical provider might prescribe less oxycodone than the customer wanted. In those instances, Margulis and Resnick would intervene and ask the prescribing medical provider to reconsider, knowing it would lead the provider to give the customer what the customer wanted.
Michael Resnick, a/k/a Michael Reznikov, age 55, and his wife, Alina Margulis, age 49, both of Brooklyn, New York, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam. Margulis also pleaded guilty to money laundering, and Resnick also pleaded guilty to structuring currency deposits. Chief Judge Blake sentenced Resnick to three years in federal prison and sentenced Margulis to a year and a day in prison and ordered that Resnick and Margulis forfeit $280,000, the amount of illicit profits they received from the scheme. Gerald Wiseberg, a/k/a Gerry Wiseberg and Jerry Wiseberg, age 82, of Boca Raton, Florida, also pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and was sentenced to three years in prison. Chief Judge Blake also entered an order that Wiseberg forfeit $273,000.
Physician William Crittenden III, age 52, of Kensington, Maryland, who served as a medical director at Healthy Life before Alexander, was convicted at trial of conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam, and eight separate counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone and was sentenced to three years in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended DEA, IRS-CI, Baltimore County Police Department and Baltimore County State’s Attorneys’ Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason D. Medinger and Peter J. Martinez, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.