News Release
February 19, 2010
Contact: Melissa Bell,
Number: 202-616-4740

Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Illegal Oxycodone Distribution
Illegally Distributed 34,000 Doses of Addictive Painkiller
Diversion of Prescription Drugs Termed “Leading Drug Enforcement Challenge”

FEB 19 -- BALTIMORE, Maryland - Pharmacist Ketankumar Arvind Patel, age 48, of Eldersburg, Maryland, owner of the Medicine Shoppe located at 11813 ½ Reisterstown Road in Reisterstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute two kilograms of oxycodone to a drug dealer.

The plea was announced by Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration; United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio of the Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the Baltimore City Police Department; Chief William J. McMahon of the Howard County Police Department;  and Secretary John M. Colmers of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“When abused, prescription drugs are dangerous drugs in their own right, they often lead to the use of harder drugs, with life-altering consequences,” stated Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Our Tactical Diversion Squad (TDS) in Baltimore is dedicated to holding pharmacies and the individuals who operate them accountable for the controlled substances they dispense,” added Cooper-Davis.

“The abuse of prescription medications is one our leading law enforcement challenges,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.  “Drugs that are approved for use only with a doctor’s supervision often are diverted and sold to drug abusers who become addicted to drugs for which they have no medical need.  Prescription drug abuse has become increasingly prevalent among teenagers and young adults.”

According to Patel’s plea agreement, the investigation began when a drug dealer advised DEA agents that since July 2007 Patel had been filling fraudulent prescriptions for Oxycontin and Percocet at his pharmacy.  The drug dealer had obtained a blank prescription pad, and would fill out multiple false prescriptions in different names for Oxycontin and Percocet.  Patel instructed the drug dealer how to write fake prescriptions to avoid detection from the DEA, insurance companies or any other authorities.  From July 2007 to March 2009, Patel filled approximately 621 prescriptions for the drug dealer at a price of between $8 and $12 per 80 mg Oxycontin pill, and $2 per 10 mg Percocet pill.

After coming forward to the DEA in March 2009, the DEA had the drug dealer tape-record controlled purchases of oxycodone made with fake prescriptions and DEA funds.  Phony prescriptions were also used by a separate Department of Health and Human Services undercover agent to purchase Xanax from Patel on May 21, 2009 and June 5, 2009.

In total, Patel sold approximately 34,000 oxycodone pills to the drug dealer between July 2007 and March 2009 for approximately $400,000.  The total weight of the oxycodone sold was approximately 2 kilograms.

As part of his plea, Patel has agreed to forfeit $400,000, including $50,000 seized by DEA agents in a search conducted at the time of Patel’s arrest.

Patel faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz scheduled sentencing for April 9, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

The DEA has a toll-free international hotline to report the illegal sale and abuse of prescription drugs: 1-877-RxAbuse (1-877-792-2873).  Illegal sales of drugs on the Internet or in e-mails can be reported to the following agencies: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Diversion Control Program, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).