Houston Doctor Convicted for Distributing Prescription Narcotics
HOUSTON – A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts on all 19 counts as charged against a Houston doctor for distributing oxycodone and hydrocodone, announced U.S. Atttorney Kenneth Magidson.
The jury deliberated for approximately eight hours before convicted Richard Arthur Evans, 71. He now faces up to life in prison. The jury heard testimony for 14 days from 15 witnesses, including other doctors who appeared as expert witnesses. The government presented more than 175 exhibits during the course of the trial.
Co-defendant David Devido, 78, of Houston, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial.
The two defendants conspired to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone - controlled narcotic substances that are highly addictive and highly abused pain relievers. Both drugs are semi-synthetic opiates which can be only acquired legally by prescription and dispensed by a pharmacist. As a physician, Evans wrote prescriptions and Devido, a pharmacist, dispensed the drugs. Witnesses testified these pill are sold for approximately $40 each on the street.
The jury heard that Evans distributed these drugs outside the course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He saw patients from Louisiana and other states, prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone products and directed patients to the pharmacy Devido had owned.
Some of the patients testified as to lax procedures at the clinic and the ease with which they were able to obtain prescriptions. Evans charged patients $200-$240 cash for an initial office visit, at which time they would obtain a first prescription. Refills are not permitted for narcotics. However, the jury heard that patients were told they could obtain a new prescription in 30 days without an office visit as long as the patient sent a money order to Evans for $200-$240. Patients were also told they could obtain a third prescription without an office visit as long as they again sent the payment to Evans.
Once the patients sent in their money orders, Evans and his staff delivered the prescriptions to Devido at Briargrove Pharmacy. Devido and his staff would then send these drugs through the U.S. mail and FedEx to patients in Louisiana and other states.
The jury saw an undercover video depicting Evans signing off on prescriptions the nurse wrote without any examination or questioning of the patient. They also heard from a defense expert witness physician who testified he was surprised that more than 800 of the patients were from the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area. The expert could only bring himself to say that a doctor who pre-signs prescriptions is practicing “poorly.”
As a result of the conspiracy, Evans prescribed and Devido dispensed approximately 1.6 million dosage units of oxycodone in a two-year-period. The jury heard that the total money attributed to the diversion scheme was approximately $2.4 million.
The jury convicted Evans on one count of conspiracy, five counts of illegal distribution of narcotics, eight counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering. He could also be ordered to pay up to $5 million in fines. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt presided over the trial and set sentencing for Oct. 17, 2016. Devido is set for sentencing Sept. 26, 2016. Both were permitted to remain on bond pending their hearings.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy conducted the investigation, which was dubbed Operation Oxy Overload. Assistant U.S Attorneys Cedric L. Joubert and Quincy L. Ollison prosecuted the case.