Texas Doctor Convicted of Illegally Prescribing Highly Addictive Opioids
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas
Following an 8-day trial, a Texas doctor who unlawfully prescribed powerful opioids has been convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and six counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton.
On Monday, a jury convicted Leovares A. Mendez, a 58-year-old doctor who co-owned and operated Cumbre Medical Center, LLC in Dallas, on all counts. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Codefendant Cesar Pena-Rodriguez, 56, pleaded guilty on January 17, 2024, 5 days before trial was scheduled to begin, to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Dr. Pena-Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced on April 22, 2024.
According to evidence presented at trial, Dr. Pena-Rodriguez and Dr. Mendez issued numerous prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Specifically, the defendants repeatedly issued prescriptions for controlled substances, including hydrocodone, alprazolam, and tramadol to undercover agents posing as patients in exchange for $250 cash payments.
The defendants sold medically unjustified prescriptions to undercover agents in 24 undercover visits. At trial, the evidence showed Dr. Mendez issued prescriptions despite performing only minimal or perfunctory medical evaluations during short visits, some only lasting one minute. Video and audio recordings of the visits made by the undercover officers showed a pattern of the officers requesting the medications by name with no complaint of pain. On multiple occasions, Dr. Mendez coached the undercover officers as to what to say if ever contacted by law enforcement in relation to the illegal prescriptions.
Dr. Mendez now faces up to 140 years in federal prison – 20 years per count.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Donna Strittmatter Max, Marty Basu and Renee Hunter prosecuted the case, with support from Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Hayworth.
Public Affairs Officer
Updated February 5, 2024
Health Care Fraud