McAllen Medical Clinic Operator Pleads Guilty in Pill Mill Case
DALLAS — Muhammad Faridi, 40, the former owner of the McAllen Medical Clinic, appeared this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater and pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge stemming from his involvement in a “pill mill” operation, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Specifically, Faridi pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine not to exceed $500,000, or twice the value of any property involved in the transaction. Faridi also agrees to forfeit approximately $20,182 in funds seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. A sentencing date was not set.
According to plea documents filed in his case, beginning in January 2013 and continuing through July 2014, Faridi, who is not a physician, and his co-conspirators, including Dr. Richard Andrews and Ndufola Kigham, a pharmacist, distributed and caused to be distributed at least 150,000 30mg oxycodone pills through the McAllen Medical Clinic in Dallas that he operated with Dr. Andrews. The prescriptions were issued under the name and DEA registration number of co-conspirator Dr. Andrews, the supervising physician at the McAllen Medical Clinic. Faridi knew that none of the prescriptions for the 30mg oxycodone had been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a medical practitioner.
Faridi and his co-conspirators, including Dr. Andrews, conspired to conduct financial transactions with the proceeds of this drug-trafficking to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of those proceeds.
In February 2015, a federal grand jury in Dallas indicted 23 individuals on offenses related to their participation in the prescription drug distribution conspiracy. That indictment alleged that from at least May 2013 through July 2014, the defendants participated in a scheme to illicitly obtain prescriptions for pain medications, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and then distribute those controlled substances for profit. As part of the conspiracy, individuals, often homeless or of limited means, were recruited and paid to pose as patients at medical clinics, including the McAllen Medical Clinic, to obtain prescriptions to fill those prescriptions at designated pharmacies.
Superseding indictments were returned in December 2015 and in January 2016, and now, a total of 31 individuals have been charged. Many of those defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Seven have been sentenced, including two who were sentenced today by Judge Fitzwater: Lashavia Syneice Denson, a/a ‘Shae Denson” and “Shay Denson,” 27, of Houston, and Angela Moore Booth, 49, of Lafayette, Louisiana, were sentenced to 30 months and 41 months, respectfully. There may be additional guilty pleas in the coming weeks; trial for the remainder of the defendants is set for October 24, 2016.
After their arrests in January 2016, Dr. Richard Andrews and Kigham, along with another defendant, pharmacist Kumi Frimpong, were ordered to surrender their DEA registration numbers, preventing Dr. Andrews from issuing prescriptions for controlled substances and Kigham and Frimpong from dispensing controlled substances. Kigham also surrendered her stock of controlled substances that she had at her pharmacy to DEA.
This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Louisiana State Police, the Grand Prairie Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, the Houston Police Department, the Arlington Police Department, the Greenville Police Department, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Diplomatic Security Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Walters is in charge of the prosecution.
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