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NEW YORK NEWS

February 02, 2017
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: 212-337-2906
@DEANewYorkDiv

Amherst Doctor Sentenced for Obtaining Controlled Substances by Fraud and Health Care Fraud

FEB 02 (MINEOLA, N. Y.)  - Dr. Albert R. Cowie, 38, of Amherst, NY, who was convicted of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and health care fraud, was sentenced to 24 months in prison today by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.  James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division and Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. jointly announced the sentencing.

“This sentencing highlights a doctor’s crime and a drug user’s insidious cycle of addiction,” said Hunt. “Issuing prescriptions for controlled substances for non-medical purposes is a federal crime that furthers opioid addiction. DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to identify those responsible.”

“The purpose in publicizing today’s sentencing is not to try to shame or embarrass anyone, including Dr. Cowie, who unlawfully uses or distributes this poison,” said Kennedy. “Rather, the purpose is to remind everyone—no matter who you are, whether you are a doctor or a derelict—that each of us will eventually be held accountable for the choices we make. Some, those that we catch, must answer in the criminal justice system. Sadly, many that we don’t catch must answer with their lives. So my message today is that this Office will continue—with our law enforcement partners— aggressively to enforce the drug laws. We are not going to go away. Lives are at stake. If you are using these drugs—no matter who you are—then you need to get help, because if you don’t, you will end up either dead or, if you’re lucky, in jail.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney George C. Burgasser, who handled the case, stated that between January 2010 and March 22, 2014, the defendant, a practicing radiologist, wrote more than 200 illegal prescriptions for controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. The prescriptions were distributed to an individual who then went to local pharmacies and had the scripts filled. The individual retained some of the controlled substances for personal use but returned the remainder of the narcotics to Cowie for his own use.

During a meeting between Cowie and a confidential witness, the defendant advised the witness to lie to insurance investigators about his alleged prescription fraud. The witness is quoted as saying to the defendant, “okay so just say they were written for me even though they were written for you…is what you’re saying?” Cowie replied, “right.” As a result of the prescription fraud, Univera Health Care and HealthNow New York
were fraudulently billed $20,482.83.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the DEA Buffalo Resident Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and the Amherst Police Department.

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