“Pill Mill” Medical Director Convicted in Scheme to Distribute Oxycodone Without a Medical Need
“Pharmaceutical Pills Can Be Just as Harmful as Illegal Drugs”
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury convicted physician William Crittenden III, age 52, of Kensington, Maryland late Friday of conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam, and eight separate counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone.
The guilty verdict 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.
“William Crittenden prescribed opioid drugs to people who had no medical need for the drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Pharmaceutical pills can be just as harmful as illegal drugs when they are used without proper oversight.”
According to evidence presented at the 11 day trial 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 interviewed and hired Crittenden to serve as one of the first medical directors at Healthy Life because Wiseberg believed that Crittenden would write prescriptions for narcotics to customers without a legitimate medical need. Customers to Healthy Life paid at least $300 for an initial visit and at least $250 for all subsequent visits and the fees were collected upfront. Crittenden was paid $1,500 a day by the managers of Healthy Life, and received a total of $104,500 over just four months while he was engaged in the scheme. During this time, Crittenden knowingly provided prescriptions to individuals who were addicted to oxycodone and only wanted more pills to feed their addictions. Crittenden also knowingly provided prescriptions to individuals who wanted to sell the narcotic pills on the street. Finally, Crittenden knowingly provided prescriptions to Healthy Life customers even after their urinalysis results showed the presence of illicit substances such as cocaine and marijuana.
Crittenden was the medical director of Healthy Life until his resignation 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 Crittenden’s prescribing practices. This investigation ultimately led the Maryland Board of Physicians to suspend Crittenden’s medical license.
Wiseberg, who was not a doctor, 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 also 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, including Crittenden, 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.
Crittenden was acquitted on 15 of the drug distribution counts.
Crittenden faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A sentencing date will be scheduled in the near future.
Michael Resnick, a/k/a Michael Reznikov, age 54, and his wife, Alina Margulis, age 49, both of Brooklyn, New York; Gerald Wiseberg, a/k/a Gerry Wiseberg and Jerry Wiseberg, age 82, of Boca Raton, Florida; along with Daniel Alexander, age 53, of Pikesville, Maryland, who served as a medical director at Healthy Life after Crittenden resigned, 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. Resnick and Margulis have agreed to the entry of an order to forfeit $280,000, the amount of illicit profits they received from the scheme. Alexander has agreed to the entry of an order to forfeit $30,000, the amount he was paid for his activities at Healthy Life. Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for Wiseberg on March 7, Resnick and Margulis on March 18, and Alexander on March 25.
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 are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.