Long Island Pharmacist Arrested: Charged With Illegally Selling Oxycodone, Fentanyl
February 27 (New York) - Lutful Chowdhury, 62, a Long Island pharmacist, will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Kathleen A. Tomlinson, on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and fentanyl, both highly addictive pain medications. The indictment was announced by Wilbert L. Plummer, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Chowdhury was arrested by DEA agents on July 2, 2011, and charged with 14 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and one count of Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication and Prescriptions. He was released on $10,000 bail and has remained at liberty since his arrest.
As detailed in the government’s pleadings and a detention letter filed earlier today, Chowdhury owns and operates Aim Pharmacy in Baldwin, New York. Between May 2006 and September 2011, Chowdhury allegedly dispensed oxycodone and fentanyl to individuals who produced stolen or fraudulent prescriptions. The customers used the drugs themselves or re-sold them to others. As part of the conspiracy and to avoid detection by the DEA, which monitors the dispensing of prescription controlled substances, Chowdhury allegedly, advised the customers not to repeatedly use the same names on the fraudulent prescriptions.
The charge in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Plummer said, “This investigation unveiled a pharmacist who, as detailed in the pleadings and court filings, has no regard for the law or the health of his customers, not only providing individuals with oxycodone and fentanyl but also giving them tips on how to avoid detection from law enforcement. The arrest of Lutful Chowdhury demonstrates our commitment to investigating those allegedly responsible for turning a blind eye on fraudulent prescriptions for a profit.”
“We all depend on pharmacists and health care professionals to act ethically, responsibly and safely. Pharmacists, in particular, handle potentially dangerous drugs every day and must ensure they are not dispensed without a valid prescription. As alleged here, the defendant put personal greed over the health and welfare of the public and joined in a scheme to sell highly addictive narcotics without valid prescriptions,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Today’s indictment marks the continuation of this Office’s commitment to combating illegal trafficking of prescription drugs.” Ms. Lynch thanked the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for its invaluable cooperation and assistance during this investigation.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), oxycodone and fentanyl are both synthetic opiates intended to be prescribed to patients suffering from severe or chronic pain. The NIH reports that Fentanyl is a more powerful narcotic than morphine and is typically prescribed to patients to manage post-surgical pain. Although approved for use in medical treatment, the drugs must be dispensed by medical professionals only for legitimate purposes. Because of their high potential for abuse, oxycodone and fentanyl are designated Schedule II controlled substances under federal law – the same regulatory designation as cocaine.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a $1 million fine. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Raymond A. Tierney.