Pharmaceutical Pills Can Be Just as Harmful as Illegal Drugs
On Thursday, July 28, 2016, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced physician William Crittenden III, age 52, of Kensington, Maryland to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam, and eight separate counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone. Crittenden was convicted by a federal jury on February 19, 2016, after an 11 day trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“State and federal authorities are working to shut down ‘pain clinics’ that are really just fronts for criminals who divert pharmaceutical drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “William Crittenden prescribed opioid drugs to people who had no medical need for the drugs. Pharmaceutical pills can be just as harmful as illegal drugs when they are used without proper oversight.”
Wiseberg interviewed and hired Crittenden to serve as one of the first medical directors at Healthy Life because Wiseberg believed that Crittenden would write narcotics prescriptions for customers without a legitimate medical need. Customers to Healthy Life paid at least $300 for an initial visit and at least $250 for all subsequent visits and the fees were collected upfront. Crittenden was paid $1,500 a day by the managers of Healthy Life, and received a total of $104,500 over just four months while he was engaged in the scheme. During this time, Crittenden knowingly provided prescriptions to individuals who were addicted to oxycodone and only wanted more pills to feed their addictions, and to individuals who wanted to sell the narcotic pills on the street. Crittenden knowingly provided prescriptions to Healthy Life customers even after their urinalysis results showed the presence of illicit substances such as cocaine and marijuana. Finally, Crittenden made false entries in patient files to make it seem as if he had conducted full physical exams on customers when in fact he had not.
Crittenden was the medical director of Healthy Life from April 2011 until his resignation in August 2011 when the Maryland Board of Physicians – the agency authorized to issue licenses to practice medicine in Maryland and to discipline licensees – initiated an investigation into Crittenden’s prescribing practices. This investigation ultimately led the Maryland Board of Physicians to suspend Crittenden’s medical license.
To maximize profits, prescribing physicians, including Crittenden, were encouraged: to prescribe the maximum amount of oxycodone to each customer; and to write prescriptions for 28-day cycles as opposed to 30-day cycles. Additionally, Margulis and Resnick handled complaints by Healthy Life customers who were unhappy with the prescriptions they received, particularly when a medical provider might prescribe less oxycodone than the customer wanted. In those instances, Margulis and Resnick would intervene and ask the prescribing medical provider to reconsider, knowing it would lead the provider to give the customer what the customer wanted.
Michael Resnick, a/k/a Michael Reznikov, age 55, and his wife, Alina Margulis, age 49, both of Brooklyn, New York, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam and were sentenced to three years in prison and a year and a day in prison, respectively. Margulis also pleaded guilty to money laundering, and Resnick also pleaded guilty to structuring currency deposits. Resnick and Margulis were also ordered to forfeit $280,000.
Gerald Wiseberg, a/k/a Gerry Wiseberg and Jerry Wiseberg, age 82, of Boca Raton, Florida, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs. Chief Judge Blake also ordered that Wiseberg forfeit $273,000.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended DEA, IRS-CI, Baltimore County Police Department and Baltimore County State’s Attorneys’ Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason D. Medinger and Peter J. Martinez, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.