Doctor Impersonator Who Led Hydrocodone Ring Sentenced
March 28 (Sacramento, CA) — Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Raymond Reyes, 29, of Lincoln, California was sentenced on Tuesday by United States District Judge John A. Mendez to four years and nine months in prison for conspiring to distribute hydrocodone and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, between December 2007 and July 2009, Reyes was the founder and leader of a hydrocodone distribution ring operating in 16 cities in the counties of Sacramento, Placer, Sonoma, San Joaquin, and Yuba. Several other suspects participated in the scheme. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has obtained 11 other convictions related to this scheme. Charges against Reyes’s federal co-defendant, Brandon Savaloja, are pending. The charges are only allegations and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to court documents, in 2006, Reyes worked for a Sacramento area cardiologist as a licensed medical assistant. The doctor caught Reyes calling in fraudulent prescriptions for hydrocodone. Hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, is an opiate prescribed for pain that the doctor never prescribed. Consequently, the doctor fired Reyes in late 2008.
To carry out his scheme, Reyes would call pharmacies and pose as an employee of the doctor using false names. He would order hydrocodone prescriptions under the purported authority of the doctor using his unique Drug Enforcement Administration registration number. Reyes would pick up the prescriptions himself, or other conspirators would pick them up and give the pills to Reyes. Reyes would pay the conspirators for doing the pickups, either in cash or hydrocodone pills.
The State of California requires pharmacies to report all prescriptions of Schedule II and III controlled substances to an electronic reporting database (the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or “CURES”). The CURES database shows that approximately 508 prescriptions for hydrocodone (totaling approximately 97,000 pills) were distributed by approximately 89 pharmacies under the purported authority of the doctor for whom Reyes worked during the conspiracy. CURES logged the date of each prescription, the number of pills, and the purported patient to whom the pills were distributed. The names of approximately 74 purported patients were used, often without knowledge or consent of the persons to whom those names actually corresponded.
Other conspirators learned how the scheme worked and called in their own prescriptions using the doctor’s information. Reyes admitted in the plea agreement that he was responsible for the distribution of at least 40,000 hydrocodone pills.
According to Reyes’s guilty plea, he profited from the scheme. He told one conspirator that he made $15,000 in two days selling pills from these fraudulent prescriptions. He admitted using his own personal insurance in several instances to pay for pickups.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Sacramento Resident Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Auburn Police Department, the Rocklin Police Department, the Lincoln Police Department, and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. McConkie prosecuted the case.