July 26, 2018
Contact: Special Agent Cheryl Davis
Phone Number: (571) 362-1859
West Bloomfield Doctor sentenced for opioid drug conspiracy
DETROIT – Law enforcement officials arrested 14 individuals today in “Operation Purple Drank.” A West Bloomfield doctor and Monroe Patient Recruiter were sentenced to 72 months and 144 months in prison, respectively, for conspiring to unlawfully distribute prescription narcotics, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Division.
Dr. Mark Buzzard, 51, and Joseph James Roe, 49, were sentenced by U.S District Court Judge Judith Levy after both pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances – namely the Schedule II opioids Oxycodone and Oxymorphone.
The case revealed that Joseph James Roe would recruit “patients” from Monroe, Michigan to be seen by Dr. Mark Buzzard at MV Buzzard P.C. medical clinic in West Bloomfield, Michigan, over 60 miles away. These “patients” received medically unnecessary controlled substances which Roe later sold in the Metropolitan Detroit area or in Tennessee. Pills travelling from Michigan to Tennessee are commonly known as diverting pills down the “Southern Pipeline.” Both Michigan and Tennessee have seen devastating statistics relating to opioid drug overdoses during the timeframe of this four year conspiracy.
Buzzard and Roe, conspired with five other coconspirators to distributed thousands of pills into these communities. Oxycodone and Oxymorphone are two of the most diverted controlled substances in our area and in Tennessee. Both are powerful and addictive drugs in the opioid class that are easily abused, and can lead to addiction and eventual heroin use. These drugs must be prescribed by a doctor only for a legitimate medical purpose; and the doctor must act in good faith in prescribing these medications.
“More people die in America every year from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of all other drugs combined,” stated U.S. Attorney Schneider. “In addition, prescription drug addiction has led to resurgence in heroin use. Physicians who divert prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to this epidemic, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them.”
“Physicians have a responsibility to ensure that they are prescribing controlled substances for legitimate use and clearly Buzzard’s actions disregarded this obligation,” Plancon said. “Buzzard and members of his drug trafficking organization have betrayed the community’s trust for a long time and they will now be held accountable.”
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Regina R. McCullough and Brandy R. McMillion. McCullough is the Deputy Chief of the Health Care Fraud Unit. McMillion serves as the Eastern District of Michigan’s Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit AUSA and is dedicated solely to prosecuting medical professionals contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the 12 districts included in this Department of Justice initiative.