Skip to main content
Press Release

11 Individuals, Including A Nurse Practitioner, Indicted On Charges Of Illegally Selling Fentanyl

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 21 count indictment charging 11 defendants with conspiracy to distribute and obtain through fraud controlled substances. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Under indictment are:

• Jennifer Courton, 28, of Buffalo, NY
• Calvin Elston, Jr., 38, of Buffalo, NY
• Brandon M. Coburn, 32, of West Seneca, NY
• John Davis, 42, of Buffalo, NY
• Rodney Courton, 46, of Buffalo, NY
• Jessica Howard, 23, of Buffalo, NY
• Samuel Nappo, 36, of Buffalo, NY
• Tashaira Vazquez, 29, of Buffalo, NY
• Terrance Williams, 44, of Buffalo, NY
• Johanna Sanchez Rodriquez, 40, Buffalo, NY
• Louis Diaz, 49, of Buffalo, NY

Some of the defendants are also charged with obtaining controlled substances through fraud, distribution of fentanyl, oxymorphone, and oxycodone, and maintaining a premises for the distribution of drugs.

“Both the country and this area are in the midst of an epidemic related to the use and abuse of opiate-based drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “While this scourge will only end with the continuing assistance of the public, law enforcement stands ready to do its part through the vigorous enforcement of the laws. As this case demonstrates, a person’s status as a licensed medical prescriber will not protect them from prosecution where the situation warrants.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Caleb J. Petzoldt, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, between December 2013 and April 2015, Coburn, a licensed nurse practitioner, provided fraudulent Fentanyl prescriptions to the defendants. As a nurse practitioner, Coburn can legally prescribe controlled substances. These prescriptions however were filled by the defendants and sold on the street in the Buffalo area and were not used for a legitimate medical purposes. In some instances, they paid other individuals $50 to fill the prescriptions for them.   

Coburn, who is not currently employed as a nurse practitioner in the Western District of New York, previously surrendered his medical license in the State of Arizona for improper professional practice and misconduct.

10 of the defendants have been arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. Defendants Williams and Rodney Courton are being held pending detentions hearings. Jennifer Courton will be arraigned at a later date.  

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Division.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated November 13, 2015