Dr. Rogelio Lucas And His Wife Convicted On 30 Counts
NEW YORK - Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor and James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement (DEA), New York Division, announced today that a Manhattan Supreme Court jury returned a guilty verdict against Dr. Rogelio Lucas and his wife Lydia Lucas, who managed her husband’s medical practice. The Lucases were convicted on one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and 29 counts of Criminal Sale of a Prescription for a Controlled Substance following a four-week trial. A licensed internist since 1972, Dr. Lucas surrendered his medical license in April of 2016 while criminal charges were pending.
As proven at trial, Dr. Lucas and Lydia Lucas operated a medical practice at 215 West 101st St., Suite 1A, in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where they engaged in a conspiracy to sell prescriptions for the addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone for no legitimate medical purpose. Prior to 2009, the Lucases offered legitimate medical services through a primary care practice that catered to the elderly and accepted insurance. Between Jan. 2, 2009 and May 13, 2015, the practice underwent a radical transformation into a pill mill that churned out prescriptions for oxycodone in exchange for illegal cash payments.
“As today’s verdict makes clear, doctors and medical personnel who use their special privileges to illegally distribute addictive drugs for no medical reason will be judged by same standards as street dealers,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “Dr. Rogelio Lucas and his wife Lydia reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling prescriptions for $120 per visit. They will now face the consequences of the harm they caused by putting millions of highly addictive oxycodone pills out on the street.
“I thank the jury for their careful attention in this case, and the law enforcement agencies which methodically pieced the evidence together,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan said. Sentencing is scheduled for June 21, 2018 before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Kirke Bartley, who oversaw the trial.
Rogelio and Lydia Lucas were arrested on June 9, 2015 and released on $500,000 bail each. In conjunction with the arrests, agents and investigators conducted court authorized searches of the Lucases’ office and apartment in Manhattan, and a second home at 15 Black Birch Lane in Scarsdale, NY.
As detailed at trial, approximately $680,000 in cash was recovered from the Scarsdale residence. Photographs in evidence showed boxes recovered from a bedroom containing cash and handwritten notations by Lydia Lucas indicating the precise amount of money in each box.
Evidence further revealed that Lydia Lucas served as the gatekeeper for the office and maintained lists of the numbers of patients and amounts paid per day. Generally, patients who received oxycodone prescriptions were charged $120 cash for each office, while those few who did not receive oxycodone prescriptions were charged $80. Over the course of one year alone, Dr. Lucas and his wife made approximately $500,000 in cash deposits into multiple bank accounts.
A sign posted in the office instructed patients that while the office would accept insurance, such as Medicaid and Medicare, those who chose to pay in this manner would be restricted from receiving oxycodone.
Multiple drug rings received prescriptions for oxycodone from Dr. Lucas that were then filled at pharmacies and the pills sold on the black market. Patients who tested negative for oxycodone, indicating that they were not taking the medication, were still provided with prescriptions, despite clear indications they were not themselves taking the pills. Medical examinations were perfunctory and MRIs found in the office’s files contained obvious indications of forgery, including spelling errors.
Crowds gathered in the waiting room, prompting complaints by members of the community. Dr. Lucas relocated his office three times before landing at 215 West 101st St., Suite 1A. A court authorized review of Dr. Lucas’s prescribing history revealed he wrote oxycodone prescriptions for approximately 45 to 50 individuals per day at the height of the conspiracy.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked her office’s Prescription Drug Investigation Unit and Assistant District Attorneys Brian Rodriguez and Jeffrey Linehan who represented the prosecution at the trial. She also thanked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) New York Division Tactical Diversion (Group TDS-NY), the New York City Police (NYPD), the New York City Human Resources (HRA), Department of Social Services, the New York State Health Department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the Nassau County Police Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human (HHS). Group TDS-NY is comprised of agents and officers from the DEA, the NYPD, the Town of Orangetown Police Department and the Westchester County Police Department.