Local Doctor and Pharmacist Arrested in Pill Mill Investigation
Indictment Charges Numerous Individuals in Conspiracy to Distribute Oxycodone and Hydrocodone at Dallas Pill Mill
DALLAS — A local doctor and pharmacist were arrested yesterday morning on federal charges stemming from their respective roles in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances illegally, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, in a pill mill operation, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Dr. Richard Andrews, 63, of Dallas; Muhammad Faridi, 39, of Murphy, Texas; Adrian Banks, 22, of Dallas; and pharmacist Ndufola Kigham, 44, of Arlington, Texas. Each is charged in a just-unsealed second superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Each made his initial appearance yesterday afternoon in federal court in Dallas. After agreeing to surrender their DEA registration numbers, Dr. Andrews and pharmacist Kigham were released on bond. Surrendering their registration numbers prevents Dr. Andrews from issuing prescriptions for controlled substances and pharmacist Kigham from dispensing controlled substances. Faridi and Banks were detained pending hearings set for tomorrow, Friday, January 22, at 1:00 p.m.
This indictment also charges Brandon Dunbar, 32, of Houston; Kumi Frimpong, 55, of Grand Prairie, Texas; and Lee Robertson, 31, presently in state custody in Louisiana; with the same offense. In addition, Banks, Dunbar and Robertson are also each charged with one count and Frimpong with two counts, of unlawful use of a communication facility.
Numerous other defendants were charged in the conspiracy in previous indictments. Five have pleaded guilty, and the remainder are set for trial on June 16, 2016.
According to the second superseding indictment, returned earlier this month by a grand jury in Dallas, Andrews is a doctor of osteopathy and co-owner and supervising physician of McAllen Medical Clinic, located on South Hampton in Dallas. Frimpong and Kigham are licensed pharmacists. Frimpong is the owner, operator, and pharmacist in charge of Cornerstone Pharmacy, located on Bolton Boone in Desoto, Texas. Kigham is the owner, operator, and pharmacist in charge of GenPharm Pharmacy, located on Wheatland Road in Desoto.
The indictment alleges that from approximately January 2013 through July 2014, Andrews, Banks, Dunbar, Faridi, Frimpong, Kigham, Robertson, and others previously charged in the indictment, conspired to possess with intent to distribute, distribute, and cause to be distributed, oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, and hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, without a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice.
As part of the conspiracy, individuals who were homeless, or of limited means, were recruited to pose as patients at certain medical clinics to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone and fill those prescriptions at designated pharmacies. The recruits were typically paid a fee, such as $30. Recruiters would organize the recruits so that another individual would pick them up and transport them to and from the clinics. The drivers or the script ringleader would typically pay the recruiters a small fee, such as $15, for each person they recruited. Drivers or script ringleaders would coach recruits on what to say inside the clinic to obtain the specified prescription. Drivers or script ringleaders paid for the recruits’ clinic visits.
Further, the indictment alleges as part of the conspiracy, that specific clinics attempted to minimize the possibility of detection by law enforcement by limiting patients to recruits accompanied by known and trusted drivers, and the clinics attempted to maximize their profits by providing the prescriptions sought by the script ringleaders, such as 30mg oxycodone. The clinics provided the oxycodone prescriptions by hiring medical practitioners willing to write them even though the clinic owners, managers, and practitioners knew they were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice. To avoid detection by law enforcement, clinic owners and managers, script ringleaders, drivers, and recruits, concealed and assisted others in concealing the illicitly issued nature of the prescriptions, the quantities of controlled substances obtained and distributed and the amount of the drug proceeds.
The driver or script ringleader transported the recruits and prescriptions, or just the prescriptions, to designated pharmacies to be filled and paid for the prescriptions. Drivers would then deliver the controlled substances to the script ringleaders who distributed and dispensed, and possessed with intent to distribute and dispense, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Dr. Andrews wrote and issued prescriptions for 30mg oxycodone pills without conducting medical exams, and for which he knew there was not legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Faridi ensured script ringleaders had access to McAllen and could obtain the prescriptions they sought. Faridi also filled out prescriptions for 30mg oxycodone pills and obtained Andrews’s signature on them.
The indictment also alleges that between January 2013 and July 2014:
Dr. Andrews and Faridi distributed and caused to be distributed at least 150,000 30mg oxycodone pills by issuing prescriptions knowing that the prescriptions had not been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a medical practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice;
Frimpong distributed and dispensed from Cornerstone Pharmacy at least 40,000 30mg oxycodone pills by filling prescriptions written by Dr. Andrews, knowing the prescriptions had not been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a medical practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice; and
Kigham distributed and dispensed from GenPharm Pharmacy at least 70,000 30mg oxycodone pills by filling prescriptions written by Dr. Andrews, knowing the prescriptions had not been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a medical practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice.
An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the statutory maximum penalty for the conspiracy offense is 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. The statutory maximum penalty for each of the unlawful use of a communication facility counts is four years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation that would require the defendants, upon conviction, to forfeit approximately $20,000 seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is conducting the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Walters is in charge of the prosecution.
# # #