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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pharmacist And Four Other Individuals Charged In Manhattan Federal Court In Oxycodone Distribution Scheme

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced charges today against five individuals for their participation in an oxycodone distribution ring.  The alleged conspiracy involved the distribution of oxycodone from a pharmacy in Brooklyn to individuals in the New York metropolitan area.  Four of those charged were arrested this morning and presented today in the Southern District of New York, before United States Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Recent reports suggest a connection between opioid abuse and declining life expectancy.  Yet allegedly these defendants schemed to illegally obtain and resell thousands of oxycodone pills.  I want to thank our partners at the FBI and NYPD for their work to fight this public health emergency.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “Opioid and prescription drug abuse is sweeping the country.  By allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone within our community, the defendants engaged in behavior that ultimately contributes to this epidemic – one that has a lasting impact on all segments of society. Today's arrests are not only a victory for the FBI and our partners, but for everyone who confronts the tragic outcomes of opioid addiction and abuse.”

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said:  “Oxycodone and other prescription pain killers have the potential to become highly addictive.  And they are a driving force behind a rise in fatal overdoses and a spike in heroin addiction that are impacting parts of our City.  I commend the work of the US Attorney, the FBI and the NYPD in bringing charges against these five defendants who, as alleged, willfully conspired to peddle these potentially dangerous pills to those likely snared in the downward spiral of addiction.”

According to the allegations in the criminal Complaint[1] unsealed today:

GILBERTO CABRERA, ROBERT HESPETH, KIAN GOHARI, a/k/a “Danny,” SHERI BOWEN, and CALVIN BARRETT, JR., were all members of a drug trafficking organization that, among other things: (i) arranged for individuals to visit doctors’ offices and receive prescriptions for oxycodone that they did not intend to use; (ii) filled those prescriptions at Ekwunife Pharmacy, d/b/a “Afam Pharmacy Associates,” in Brooklyn, New York (the “Pharmacy”); and (iii) distributed those oxycodone pills to purchasers in the New York metropolitan area.  

CABRERA, HESPETH, GOHARI, and BOWEN were arrested this morning; BARRETT remains at large.

The conspiracy was led by CABRERA and HESPETH, neither of whom was a medical professional.  CABRERA and HESPETH recruited co-conspirators – like BOWEN – willing to obtain prescriptions of oxycodone they did not intend to use.  CABRERA and BOWEN then arranged for the co-conspirators to visit doctors’ offices in Brooklyn, New York.  Certain doctors tried to monitor patients’ use of oxycodone to insure that they were actually using the pills prescribed to them. Frequently, before co-conspirators visited those doctors, CABRERA or HESPETH provided  urine that would test positive for oxycodone, so that the doctor would believe that the co-conspirator was, in fact, taking the oxycodone, rather than selling or distributing it.

After a co-conspirator received the oxycodone prescription, CABRERA arranged for the prescription to be sent to the Pharmacy to be filled, or he took the prescription to the Pharmacy himself.  CABRERA gave the prescriptions to a particular pharmacist – GOHARI – who filled the prescriptions for CABRERA.  After receiving the oxycodone pills, CABRERA distributed the pills to individuals in the New York metropolitan area.  For example, CALVIN BARRETT, JR., frequently purchased distribution-level quantities of oxycodone from CABRERA.

GILBERTO CABRERA, ROBERT HESPETH, KIAN GOHARI, a/k/a “Danny,” SHERI BOWEN, and CALVIN BARRETT, JR., are charged in Count One of the Complaint with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance.  The charges in Count One carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s New York Health Care Fraud Task Force, which includes investigators from the FBI, the NYPD, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Megan Gaffney and Jordan Estes are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.                       

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

16-044
Topic: 
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Updated March 1, 2016