Physician From Raton, N.M., Sentenced to Prison for Trafficking in Prescription Drugs
ALBUQUERQUE – This morning a federal judge sentenced Gilbert Christopher Aragon, Jr., 48, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his prescription drug trafficking conviction. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the El Paso Division of the DEA.
Aragon pled guilty on May 11, 2012, to a five-count criminal information charging him with the following offenses: (1) conspiracy to acquire prescription drugs by fraud, forgery, fraud, deception and subterfuge; (2) obtaining prescription drugs by fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge; (3) unlawfully distributing prescription drugs without a legitimate medical purpose; (4) using the identity of another person to obtain prescription drugs by fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge; and (5) corruptly persuading a witness to make false statements. Aragon admitted committing these offenses in Colfax County, N.M., between July 2009 and July 24, 2010. During this period, Aragon was a physician employed by the Family Practice Clinic in Raton, N.M.
In entering his guilty plea, Aragon admitted that, on July 9, 2009, he conspired with his wife, who has not been charged, fraudulently to obtain Hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller, by providing a prescription to a former patient, who filled the prescription and gave the Hydrocodone to Aragon and his wife. Aragon acknowledged that the former patient did not have a legitimate medical need for the Hydrocodone, and that he and his wife shared the Hydrocodone. Aragon also admitted that, on July 30, 2009, he fraudulently obtained Hydrocodone by having a mentally-challenged patient fill a prescription and give the Hydrocodone to him. That patient also had no legitimate medical need for Hydrocodone, which Aragon used for himself.
Aragon also admitted that, on April 17, 2010, he instructed a nurse at the Family Practice Clinic to prepare a prescription for Ativan, a prescription medication for anxiety, using the DEA registration/provider number of a health care provider at the Family Practice Clinic. Aragon acknowledged that his colleague did not give him permission to use her DEA registration/provider number and had no knowledge that he used her number for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining the Ativan.
Aragon further admitted that, between July 19, 2010 and July 24, 2010, after learning that he was the target of an investigation, he asked a nurse at the Family Practice Clinic to make false statements or omit material statements of fact to the police about his criminal activities. Aragon repeatedly asked the nurse to lie for the purpose of hindering the investigation into his criminal activities.
“The American people expect their medical care professionals to prescribe drugs responsibly. While the vast majority of physicians obey federal laws that control prescription drugs, one bad doctor can endanger himself as well as others in the community,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Carol K.O. Lee. “The FBI takes these violations very seriously, and we appreciated the opportunity to work with our partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office on this case.”
“The abuse of prescription drugs, such as hydrocodone, remains a significant problem in our communities. DEA will continue to target those who illegally divert these pharmaceuticals, which can be as destructive and deadly as any illegal drug. It is particularly disturbing when the offender is a physician who betrays the trust of patients for whose health he is responsible. This conviction should serve as a reminder that anyone who diverts prescription drugs will be held accountable for the harm they cause,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge, Joseph M. Arabit.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and the Albuquerque Field Office of the DEA, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado.