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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 11, 2016

Doctor And Owner Of Bronx Clinics Involved In Illegal Distribution Of More Than Five Million Oxycodone Pills Is Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction of KEVIN LOWE, the owner of “Astramed,” a purported medical clinic with multiple locations in the Bronx, New York, and from which more than five million tablets of the prescription painkiller oxycodone were unlawfully distributed over a three-year period.  On May 4, 2015, LOWE was convicted of a conspiracy to distribute narcotics following a two-week jury trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield.  Today, Judge Schofield sentenced LOWE to a term of 144 months in prison.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Kevin Lowe and his co-defendants used a network of bad doctors and street-level dealers to flood the streets of New York City with millions of highly addictive, potent opioids, all under the guise of a legitimate medical clinic.  Instead of medical care, Lowe and others illegally dispensed opioids, enabling a vicious cycle of addiction that affects too many in our communities.  Thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department, this so-called ‘clinic’ is out of business and those responsible are been held accountable.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and the evidence presented by the government during LOWE’s trial:

From approximately January 2011 until February 2014, a drug distribution ring operated out of “Astramed,” a purported medical clinic with multiple locations in the Bronx that LOWE owned and operated.  At these clinics, doctors working under LOWE’s direction wrote tens of thousands of medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, a highly addictive, prescription opioid used to treat severe and chronic pain conditions.  Oxycodone prescriptions, once written, have enormous cash value to street-level drug dealers, who can fill prescriptions at most pharmacies and resell the resulting pills at vastly inflated rates.  Indeed, a single prescription for 180 30-milligram oxycodone pills has an average resale value in New York City of more than $6,000, and far more in nearby states.        

LOWE capitalized on the black market for oxycodone by employing board-certified, state-licensed doctors who were willing to write medically unnecessary prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone in return for cash.  LOWE’s clinics, which accepted no insurance from patients seeking oxycodone prescriptions, typically charged $300 in cash for “doctor visits” that usually lasted just a minute or two, involved no actual physical examination, and consistently resulted in the issuance of a prescription for large doses of oxycodone, typically 180 30-milligram tablets, or a daily dosage of six 30-milligram tablets. 

LOWE’s clinics bore little resemblance to a standard medical office.  For example, on a daily basis, crowds of up to 100 people gathered outside the Astramed office on Southern Boulevard (the “Clinic”) clamoring to see one of the doctors at the clinic in order to obtain a prescription for oxycodone.  Virtually none of these individuals had any medical need for oxycodone, or any legitimate medical record documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed.  Instead, most of these individuals were members of “crews” – that is, they were recruited and paid by high-level drug traffickers, oxycodone distributors (the “Crew Chiefs”), to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions from the doctors.  The Crew Chiefs then arranged for, and oversaw the filling of, the resulting prescription at various pharmacies and took possession of the oxycodone pills to be resold on the street.  Crew Chiefs also paid the Clinic’s employees hundreds of dollars in cash at a time to get their Crew Members into the Clinic to see one of the doctors. 

In total, between approximately January 2011 and February 2014, Astramed doctors issued 34,925 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, comprising nearly 5.5 million oxycodone tablets with a street value of more than $165 million.  LOWE alone collected more than $7 million in cash for these sham “doctor visits” during this time period. 

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On May 4, 2015, after a two-week jury trial, LOWE, 55, of Melville, New York, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  In addition to the prison sentence, LOWE was ordered to forfeit $2,338,661.   LOWE has previously forfeited $455,351 in proceeds earned from his unlawful operation of the Astramed clinics and seized at the time of his arrest.

Twenty-three additional participants in the drug distribution ring – including doctors, clinic employees, and drug traffickers who oversaw crews of “patients” whom they sent into the clinics in order to obtain medically unnecessary prescriptions – have previously been sentenced by Judge Schofield pursuant to guilty pleas and are included in the chart below.  Two defendants have pled guilty but have not yet been sentenced, and one defendant entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. 

Mr. Bharara thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department for their work on the investigation. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Town of Orangetown Police Department, the Westchester County Police Department, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the New York State Health Department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, New York City's Human Resources Administration, the New York State Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the El Dorado Task Force for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward B. Diskant and Tatiana R. Martins are in charge of the prosecution. 

 

DEFENDANT

CHARGE

SENTENCE

Robert Terdiman

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on March 20, 2015

Sentenced October 20, 2015, to time served, followed by one year of supervised release.  As part of his plea, DR. TERDIMAN also forfeited $355,086

David Moody

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 15, 2014

Sentenced November 14, 2014, to 90 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Rashawn Whidbee

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 29, 2014

Sentenced December 1, 2014, to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Robert Williams

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 11, 2014

Sentenced October 14, 2014, to 48 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Donald Carr

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 14, 2014

Sentenced November 21, 2014, to 132 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

George Barrow

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 29, 2014

Sentenced February 24, 2015, to 102 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Bradley Mitchell

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on August 3, 2014

Sentenced March 4, 2015, to 132 months in prison , followed by three years of supervised release

Elijah Pinckney

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on September 29, 2014

Sentenced January 6, 2015, to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Evelyn White

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on February 24, 2015

Sentenced August 10, 2015, to 12 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Cedric White

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on February 13, 2015

Sentenced August 3, 2015, to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Sheila Carter

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on March 3, 2015

Sentenced July 27, 2015, to 40 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

Jonathan Huertas

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on March 16, 2015

Sentenced August 27, 2015, to 32 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

OLGA MENDOZA DELAROSA

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on September 12, 2014

Sentenced on February 18, 2015, to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

BRYAN RIVERA

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on March 2, 2015

Sentenced on June 4, 2015, to 12 months and a day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

SAMANTHA LIVINGSTON

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on April 2, 2015

Sentenced on December 1, 2015 to three years of probation

BRIDGET HIGGINS

Completed the term of a deferred prosecution agreement on November 13, 2015.

 

 

DAVID STEWART

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on December 17, 2014

Sentenced on June 10, 2015, to four months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

VOKART ALSAIDI

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on December 17, 2014

Sentenced on April 24, 2015, to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

KENRICK CHANDLER

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on October 9, 2014

Sentenced on May 11, 2015 to 130 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

DARRYL BRATHWAITE

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on September 9, 2014

Sentenced on December 11, 2014 to 52 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

THEODORE ROOSEVELT JOHNSON

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on July 8, 2014

Sentenced on January 30, 2015, to 34 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

WALEED ALSAIDI

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on February 4, 2015

Sentenced on July 8, 2015, to 30 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release

RONALD CARR

Pled guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone on August 4, 2014

Sentenced on November 18, 2014 to 34 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release

 

16-011
Updated January 11, 2016