South Florida Doctor Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Conspiring to Illegally Distribute Oxycodone
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Omar Pérez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division announced that Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia, 65, of Weston, Florida was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman to 8 years in prison, after previously pleading guilty to conspiring to dispense a controlled substance, Oxycodone.
According to the court record, including the agreed upon factual proffers in support of the defendants’ guilty pleas, from November 2016, through and including September 2018, Dr. Rodolfo Gonzalez Garcia, his wife Arlene Gonzalez, 59, also of Weston, Annie Suarez- Gonzalez, 35, of Chicago, Illinois, and Fidel Marrero-Castellanos, 57, of Hialeah, Florida and others, used West Medical Office, Inc. located in Hialeah (later named West Pines Medical Office) for illicit purposes (Case No. 19cr20055). During this time period, the defendants agreed to prescribe purported patients that had been brought to the office by patient recruiters, prescriptions for Oxycodone. They also agreed that patient recruiters could merely bring lists containing the names of purported patients directly to West Medical Office, instead of requiring the patients’ presence. In either scenario, the defendants agreed that the patient or patient recruiters would pay West Medical Office a certain cash amount per patient present in the office or per patient name on a list, in exchange for an Oxycodone prescription. Sometimes, these agreements—money for prescriptions—were directly with the purported patient. The defendants knew that these patients were Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and that filling those prescriptions at pharmacies would result in the submission of claims to Medicare and Medicaid for payment of those prescriptions.
The defendants played various roles in the conspiracy. Marrero-Castellanos acted as a patient recruiter, bringing lists and paying cash in exchange for a prescription for the names on his list. Marrero-Castellanos took the patients with their prescriptions to pharmacies, including Medicare Part D participating pharmacies, to fill the aforementioned prescriptions. When he got the prescriptions based on just a patient list, he provided the aforementioned prescriptions to pharmacies, including Medicare Part D participating pharmacies. Sometimes, the patients went to the pharmacies on their own. All of the recruited patients gave Marrero-Castellanos their Oxycodone pills. Marrero-Castellanos sold those pills to others. Suarez-Gonzalez and Arlene Gonzalez facilitated the exchange of cash for prescriptions and filled out prescriptions. At times, Arlene Gonzalez wore a white lab coat and patients referred to her as a doctor, which she was not. She would bring pre-signed prescriptions to the clinic, and later signed prescriptions for oxycodone in her husband’s name, along with other staff members. These activities occurred even when Dr. Gonzalez Garcia was not in the office.
To facilitate the conspiracy, Dr. Gonzalez Garcia provided prescriptions for Oxycodone, even though he did not provide patients with a meaningful consultation or examination commensurate with prescribing oxycodone according to national standards and norms, nor those of the State of Florida, for such prescriptions. Dr. Gonzalez Garcia referred to himself as “El Chapo of Oxycodone." As a result of the conspiracy, Dr. Gonzalez Garcia unlawfully distributed Oxycodone.
Co-defendants Arlene Gonzalez and Suarez-Gonzalez pled guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and were sentenced to 4 months in prison and 1 year of probation, respectively. Co-defendant Marrero-Castellanos pled guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. The co-defendants were ordered to collectively pay $26,306 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of HHS-OIG, FBI and DEA. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gilfarb and Lindsey Lazopoulos Friedman. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the case.