Houston Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Distributing Prescription Narcotics
HOUSTON – A 72-year-old doctor has been ordered to federal prison for distributing large amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury convicted Richard Arthur Evans, of Houston, July 27, 2016, on all 19 counts as charged following approximately eight hours of deliberation. Co-defendant David Devido, 78, of Houston, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial.
Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt handed Evans a total sentence of 60 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. Evans was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and forfeit $268,000 in assets. In handing down the sentence, Judge Hoyt noted that Evans had previously surrendered his medical license and he had no previous criminal record. He was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
At the hearing, additional evidence was presented including the testimony of former patients who explained that they drove for six hours from the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area to see Evans to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and others drugs. The evidence also showed that Evans met patients at Winrock Clinic and New Haven Clinic in Houston. He invited patients to come to his office for oxycodone prescriptions after those clinics were closed.
Devido will be sentenced tomorrow.
During the trial, 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.
The two defendants conspired to distribute oxycodone, a highly addictive and highly abused pain medication. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate 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.
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. The jury also 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.
Evans was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
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.