Pill Mill Operator Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Distribute Oxycodone and Other Drugs in Maryland and New York
Case Highlights Law Enforcement Efforts to Investigate and Prosecute “Pain Clinics” that are Fronts for Criminals Who Divert Pharmaceutical Drugs
Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Gerald Wiseberg, a/k/a Gerry Wiseberg and Jerry Wiseberg, age 83, of Boca Raton, Florida today to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs. Chief Judge Blake also entered an order that Wiseberg forfeit $273,000.
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.
“State and federal authorities are continuing to look at ways to shut down ‘pain clinics’ that are really just fronts for criminals who divert pharmaceutical drugs and hook a new generation of addicts,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Gerald Wiseberg traveled from state to state setting up clinics that prescribed opioid drugs to people who had no medical need for the drugs.”
“This pill mill operator case shows the complexity of the drug abuse cycle and how law enforcement must take a multi-tiered approach in dealing with prescription drug abuse and the connected abuse of heroin”, stated Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert. “When users of prescription medications, especially opiate derivatives like oxycodone, become abusers of the medication, they often find themselves switching from oxycodone to a cheaper drug such as heroin. In doing so, a new generation of heroin addicts are created, which leads to an increase in cases of heroin overdoses we see every day in this nation.”
According to his plea agreement, from March 2010 through February 2011, Wiseberg owned and operated Total Care Medical Center, a pain management clinic located in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Although Wiseberg was not a medical doctor, he established the standard operating procedures for the clinic, including which drugs the prescribing physician could prescribe and the maximum dosage amounts of these drugs. As a result, Total Care accepted cash payments in exchange for providing prescriptions for large amounts of controlled substances, including oxycodone and alprazolam, to customers who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs.
In late 2010 and early 2011, two co-conspirators, Michael Resnick and his wife Alina Margulis, traveled to Florida to learn how to operate a pain clinic like Total Care. By early 2011, Wiseberg, Resnick and Margulis agreed to open a similar pain management clinic in Maryland. They opened Healthy Life, with Wiseberg as an investor, consultant and operator of the business. Wiseberg interviewed and hired medical directors at Healthy Life, specifically because he believed they would write prescriptions for narcotics to customers without a legitimate medical need.
Healthy Life first opened in Owings Mills, Maryland, and in October 2011, moved to a larger office in Timonium, Maryland. Both Healthy Life locations attracted large and unruly crowds. While outside the locations, customers caused disturbances, used narcotics, and engaged in narcotics transactions. Over 80% of the customers who received a prescription from Healthy Life were from out of state. Approximately 97% of the customers who received prescriptions from Healthy Life received at least one prescription for oxycodone.
From June 2011 through April 2012, Resnick and Margulis paid Wiseberg $12,000 a month for his role at Healthy Life. Wiseberg also received cash payments for his 30% share of the net profits from Healthy Life. In 2011 alone, those cash payments totaled $165,000.
Wiseberg also pleaded guilty to a charge filed in the Southern District of New York for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs. In that case, Wiseberg conspired with others to recruit patients from pain clinics to fill their prescriptions at specific pharmacies owned and controlled by Wiseberg’s co-conspirators. Wiseberg admitted that he knew the prescriptions were not for a legitimate medical purpose, but that the pharmacies would honor the prescriptions because his co-conspirators had staffed the pharmacies with pharmacists who would fill such prescriptions. Wiseberg and his co-conspirators required that patients filling prescriptions for oxycodone and other narcotics submit another prescription for a non-controlled substance at the same time. Wiseberg knew that these patients would pay substantially marked-up prices for oxycodone, and purchase additional non-controlled substances they did not need, in order to receive the painkillers.
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. Resnick and Margulis have agreed to the entry of an order to forfeit $280,000. Resnick and Margulis await sentencing.
Physician William Crittenden III, age 52, of Kensington, Maryland, who served as a medical director at Healthy Life, was convicted at trial of conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam, and eight separate counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone. Crittenden also awaits sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA Baltimore District Office and New Jersey Field Division, IRS, Baltimore County Police Department, and Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, for their work in these investigations. Mr. Rosenstein expressed his appreciation to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Diskant, Daniel Tehrani, and Shawn Crowley, who handled the New York prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason D. Medinger and Peter J. Martinez, who prosecuted the Maryland case.