September 28, 2016
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
New York Doctor Sentenced To More Than 13 Years In Prison For Unlawfully Dispensing Nearly 1 Million Oxycodone Pills
The New York doctor ordered to forfeit more than $2 million in fees collected for “doctor visits
NEW YORK - - Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement (DEA) New York Division announced that Moshe Mirilashvili, a Board-certified, state-licensed doctor, was sentenced today to 160 months in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and unlawful distribution of oxycodone. Mirilashvili was also ordered to forfeit $2,046,600 in cash fees collected from “patients” during the period of the conspiracy, including more than $1.75 million in cash recovered from Mirilashvili’s home at the time of his arrest. Mirlashvili was convicted in Manhattan federal court on March 17, 2016, following a three-week trial before United States District Judge Colleen McMahon, who imposed sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Moshe Mirilashvili was essentially a drug dealer masquerading as a doctor. Through his sham medical practice in Manhattan where patients and dealers would line up, Mirilashvili wrote more than 10,000 medically unnecessary prescriptions totaling close to a million oxycodone pills. As today’s sentence makes clear, those who abuse their medical licenses to fuel the opioid epidemic that is devastating so many of our communities will be prosecuted and severely punished.”
According to the Indictment, evidence admitted at trial, and statements made at court proceedings and in court filings:
Oxycodone is a highly addictive, prescription-strength narcotic used to treat severe and chronic pain conditions. Every year, more than 13 million Americans abuse oxycodone, with the misuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, leading to as many as 500,000 annual emergency room visits. Oxycodone prescriptions have enormous cash value to street-level drug dealers, who can fill the prescriptions at most pharmacies and resell the pills at vastly inflated rates. Indeed, a single prescription for 90 30-milligram oxycodone pills has an average resale value in New York City of $2,700 or more.
From October 2012 until December 2014, Mirilashvili, a board-certified, state-licensed doctor, wrote thousands of medically unnecessary prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone in exchange for cash payments. Mirilashvili did so out of a sham medical office located on West 162nd Street in Manhattan where Mirilashvili typically charged $200 to $300 in cash for “patient visits” that typically involved little, if any, actual examination and almost always resulted in the issuance of a prescription for a large quantity of oxycodone, typically 90 30-milligram tablets.
Virtually none of these “patients” had any medical need for oxycodone, nor any legitimate medical records documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed. Instead, most of these individuals were members of “crews” - that is, they were recruited and paid by drug (the “Crew Chiefs”), to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions. The Crew Chiefs then obtained these prescriptions and arranged for them to be filled at various pharmacies so that the oxycodone pills thereby obtained could be resold on the streets of New York.
As established at trial, Mirilashvili worked directly with some of these Crew Chiefs who paid Mirilashvili’s cash fees in return for the oxycodone prescriptions Mirilashvili guaranteed for their “patients.” As part of the scheme, Mirilashvili frequently accepted and even created fraudulent and fake documents - such as MRI and urinalysis reports - ostensibly documenting the medical need for the oxycodone prescriptions Mirilashvili was writing. For example, among documents recovered from Mirilashvili’s home at the time of his arrest were lab reports in which the name of the “patient” had been cut and pasted onto the document, as well as similar reports in which the name of the patient or other relevant information had been whited out. More than $1.75 million in cash earned from writing these medically unnecessary prescriptions was also recovered from the defendant’s home at the time of his arrest.
In total, between October 2012 and December 2014, Mirilashvili wrote more than 10,000 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone in return for cash payments, comprising nearly a million oxycodone tablets. Mirilashivili collected more than $2 million in cash fees for “doctor visits” during this time period, all of which the defendant is being required to forfeit to the United States.
Ten other participants in the conspiracy have previously pleaded guilty, including the drug traffickers who oversaw crews of “patients” sent into the clinics to obtain medically unnecessary oxycodone prescriptions, and clinic staff, who profited by selling access to Mirilashvili and the fraudulent prescriptions he wrote.
In addition to the prison sentence and forfeiture, Judge McMahon sentenced Mirilashvili, 68, of Great Neck, New York, to three years of supervised release and ordered Mirilashvili to pay a $300 special assessment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion (which comprises agents and officers from the DEA, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the Town of Orangetown Police Department, the Rockland County Drug Task Force, and the Westchester County Police Department) for their work in the two-year investigation.