Several charged in $9.6 million opioid distribution conspiracy
(DETROIT) – An indictment was unsealed today charging three pharmacists, one doctor and two other individuals with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined U.S. Attorney Schneider in the announcement, along with Michael Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff, Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Division; Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.
Charged in the indictment are:
Pharmacist Enitan Sodiya-Ogundipe, 42, of Novi
Pharmacist Amir Rafi, 49, of Farmington Hills
Pharmacist Abiodun Fabode, 56, of Chesterfield Township
Dr. Vasan Deshikachar, 50, of Boca Raton, Florida
Niesheia Tibu, 44, of Canton
Andrei Tibu, 30, of Canton
The indictment alleges that from January 2015 through March 2018, these pharmacists and doctor conspired with the other defendants to issue and dispense a large number of prescription opioids for supposed patients, who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. Deshikachar primarily prescribed oxycodone and oxymorphone, two of the most addictive opioids that have high street value. The Tibus would take the supposed patients to Precare Pharmacy, Global Health Pharmacy and Friendz Pharmacy, where Sodiya-Ogundipe, Rafi and Fabode would dispense the drugs. The Tibus then obtained the drugs and sold them on the street.
According to the indictment, the pharmacies dispensed more than 344,737 dosage units of Schedule II opioid prescriptions during the course of the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value in excess of $9,600,000.
“It's incredible but true that we have seen that some of our trusted doctors, pharmacists, and medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and exploit our unprecedented drug crisis for profit,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Last summer, I sent a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on the problem of opioid-related health care fraud in places where the epidemic was at its worst— including Eastern Michigan. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, our prosecutors in the Eastern District of Michigan have already made great progress in this effort—and today we continue that progress. In this case, three pharmacists and one doctor allegedly conspired to distribute nearly $10 million worth of opioids into the community, potentially spreading addiction and causing untold damage to Michigan families. I want to thank the FBI, DEA, our fabulous prosecutors Brandy McMillion and Brant Cook, the IRS, the Oakland County Sheriff’s office and all of our state and local partners for their hard work on this case. As this indictment makes clear, we are determined to reduce opioid fraud and to ultimately end the drug epidemic.”
“Diversion of prescription pills to the street market is a direct cause of the current opioid epidemic facing our country,” U.S. Attorney Schneider said. “We are focusing on charging doctors, pharmacists and the networks that are contributing to the opioid problem in our district.”
“As we are in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in our lifetime, it is important we team up with our federal partners and target those who peddle this death,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “We will go after street dealers, physicians, and pharmacists who choose to violate the law. I am proud of this team who went after this illegal operation and held those responsible accountable for their dangerous criminal behavior.”
“Investigators uncovered the hidden layers of illegal pharmaceutical trafficking conducted by members of the Tibu organization,” stated Special Agent in Charge Plancon. “These dealers illegally prescribed and sold OxyContin and other opioids and will now be held responsible for the devastation caused to families in southeastern Michigan and beyond. The DEA will continue to target all large scale drug traffickers especially those contributing to the opioid epidemic in America.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation contributes our resources and financial expertise working together with our law enforcement partners to fight the opioid epidemic,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel. “We will continue to fight this crisis, disrupting any financial benefit received from the sale of dangerous prescription drugs that plague our communities.”
Sodiya-Ogudipe was also charged with money laundering for engaging in monetary transactions with the criminal cash proceeds from her illicit pharmacy business.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brandy R. McMillion and A. Brant Cook. The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the 12 districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative created by Attorney General Sessions, that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.
The case was investigated by special agents and task force officers of the DEA, the Oakland Country Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.