For Some MDs, Drug-pushing is a Really Cool Way to Collect Hot Cars

“One doctor also received tens of thousands of dollars from the drug manufacturer, Insys, for speaking engagements where he promoted its product, Subsys.” (The Prosecution)

Want to buy a sexy car? We know where you can get a pretty good deal on one or two. A Shelby? Maybe a Rolls Royce or a Lamborghini. These are just a few of the many exotic vehicles seized by a Drug Enforcement team 2 years ago, back when they and the FBI raided the pain clinics and secret storage garage, operated by a pair of drug-dealing doctors in Mobile Alabama.

Drs Couch & Ruan.png

A federal investigation had shut down their two drug houses – sham medical clinics the neighborhood knew as Physicians’ Pain Specialists of Alabama. That was in May 2015, after investigators discovered the doctors were in the business of illegally marketing appalling volumes of potent narcotics, for fun and profit. At least 4 of their so-called “patients” were found dead, at different times, overdosed.

For more than a year detectives looked into what the physicians were really doing behind closed doors. They learned that Doctor John P Couch and Doctor Xiulu Ruan wrote, for example, just under 67,000 prescriptions in 2014 alone, deliberately “over-prescribing controlled substances to amass wealth.” Their frantic scribblings amounted to scrawling out a prescription once every 4 minutes, of every work day of the year. Were these people “patients?” Of course not. They were asked no medical history nor underwent any medical assessments. Few had anything that even smacked of a legitimate medical record. They were customers. Often addicts. Often street dealers themselves.

One former clinic employee testified at trial that the 2 doctors would routinely play a friendly game, to see who could churn out the most prescriptions by the end of the day. And all the while, they raked in millions in cash. What could be more fun?

And so it comes to pass that Doctor Xiulu Ruan and his partner-in-crime, Doctor John P Couch, were convicted on a whole litany of felonies on February 23 of this year. Couch and Ruan were found guilty on 19 counts in Mobile Federal Court, following a 4-week trial, over “excessive and dangerous” prescriptions. They were convicted on charges of Controlled Substance Distribution, Conspiracy, Healthcare Fraud, Money Laundering.

Dr Ruan & Ferrari

Dr Xiulu Ruan: Come to America. Become a drug dealer. Buy hot cars to impress the naïve ladies. How cool is that?

And the fancy, very expensive cars? Well, they are the spoils of crimes; assets worth millions, seized by investigators. The cars were tagged and towed away because they were bought with money as a result of a long string of criminal acts. Now to be sold at police impound auctions.

Ruan’s collection of exotic cars has been a key aspect in the public interest in the case. So just for fun, we thought you might like to see what a drug-dealing doctor’s “hot car” collection might look like:

  • Aston Martin DB9 Volante
  • Audi R8 Spyder
  • Bentley Armage
  • Bentley Continental GT
  • BMW M6
  • Ferrari F430 Convertible
  • Ferrari 599 GTB
  • Lamborghini Diablo
  • Mercedes SLR
  • 2 Mercedes SLS AMG’s
  • Shelby Series 1
  • Spyker C8 Laviolette
  • Saleen S7
  • Porsche 9TC

The daffy doc duo are due to be sentenced sometime this Spring. They each face 200-year prison terms. Society will be lucky if they serve even 10% of that.

Incidentally, Xiulu Ruan is an immigrant from China. And as we have noted dutifully for more than 10 years, immigrant physicians are the root cause an appalling amount of crime. Will Ruan be deported? Don’t be silly.

The U.S. does not deport drug-dealing doctor felons. We relicense them.

Here’s more on the case:

http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2017/01/trial_for_mobile_pain_clinic_d.html

Former NFL Physician Found ‘Guilty’ as a Prescription Drug-runner

In the city of Pittsburgh a doctor who served as the Steelers’ team physician for nearly 20 years was convicted yesterday morning in an illegal drug distribution scheme, in U.S. District Court.

Dr Richard Rydze.png

Doctor Richard Rydze, age 67, was found Guilty of all 180 charges against him, all centered around a long-running conspiracy to sell and distribute narcotics, steroids and human growth hormone.

The doctor’s case was one of the longest criminal cases in the history of the Federal Court – the investigations started 12 years ago in 2005. The trial started last January before Judge Joy F Conti.

The prosecution’s position was that the doctor’s criminal actions were a “daily enterprise” driven by the desire to amass wealth.

While a physician, Rydze used his prescribing pad in place of his ATM card, doling out steroids to enrich himself and flooding the community with dangerous painkillers. He violated the law, his professional oath and the trust of his patients.” (David Sierleja, U.S. Attorney in Cleveland)

Rydze owned and operated a highly questionable business in Pittsburgh called Optimal Health Center. Investigators learned he conspired with a man named James Hatzimbes, who owned HSE Salon and Wellness Center, and another individual, William Sadowski, who owned a pharmacy called ANEWrx. Hatzimbes, age 42, confessed his guilt in January. William Sadowski, age 47, confessed also and has served 2 years in prison.

This doctor was discovered to have called in thousands  of illegal Vicodin prescriptions to numerous pharmacies, by using another doctor’s DEA number – Doctor Anthony Yates – without Doctor Yates’ knowledge.

 

caduceus-art

Let us guess: You didn’t know that, did you? Well, that’s why we’re here. The name of this game is “transparency”

 

At trial, Rydze’s brother Robert testified against him. Robert Rydze said his brother  asked him in 2012 to lie, and say he was the one receiving thousands of Vicodin pills. If asked by law enforcement, he  was to say he had been getting the pills for an imaginary foot infection.

Rydze had been routinely writing prescriptions in the name of “Robert Rydze” – the names of both his brother and his father, even after his father died in 2010. But when he learned the FBI was investigating, he begged his brother to lie for him.

The lying was the basis of the Obstruction of Justice charge – one of the 180 felony charges of which he was convicted.

Rydze was once an Olympian hero, a diver. He had also been the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers’ team doctor for 20 years. Investigators discovered he had been dealing narcotics since 2005, and steroids since 2007. Between 2007-2011, Rydze amassed more than $300,000 illegally.

Las Vegas ‘Pain Doctor’ May be the Oldest Drug-Dealer on the Planet

 

Doctor Henri Wetselaar

So what do you do when you reach your 10th decade? Why, become a drug pusher. Sure beats bingo with the old folks. (photo by Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A 93-year-old Nevada physician has been found guilty of serious drug-dealing charges that could get him a prison term that would keep him behind bars until he is 123. 

Not very damn likely he’ll get any time at all.

Doctor Henri Wetselaar was convicted in Federal Court in Las Vegas on March 23 on all 11 Narcotic felonies, as well as Money Laundering charges, in case that began when he was arrested in 2011, along with his medical assistant and a Las Vegas pharmacist.
________________

The medical assistant who worked in Wetselaar’s clinic, David Litwin,  was convicted on 8 felony drug charges in the narcotic conspiracy scheme. The case of the pharmacist, Jason Smith,  ended in a hung jury, and he will face a new trial next month.

TOETAG

Screwy ‘healthcare’ – and screwball practitioners – probably kill more people than disease. But let’s all keep pretending it isn’t happening

Wetselaar, a pain specialist, immigrated from Holland  and actually served in the military during World War II. During the trial federal prosecutors were able to prove that he  had made nearly 3 dozen cash deposits totaling $260,000 in less than a year, money raked in from drug sales, especially hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma. Investigators discovered the daffy doc would charge drug dealers and addicts up to $400 for each prescription.

Wetselaar sits behind bars in Las Vegas until his sentencing in June. He could get 30 years in prison. 

Doctor Pill-Pushers in Ohio: Drug-Dealing Was a Family Affair

Dr Margaret Temponeras

In Scioto County Ohio a lady physician and her elderly MD-dad have changed their “not guilty” pleas to “guilty” to Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics.

Doctor Margaret Temponeras, age 52 and a resident of Portsmouth, confessed this week in Cincinnati U.S. District Court. Her father, Doctor John Temponeras, age 82, had already pleaded guilty on March 15 to the same charge – Conspiracy to Distribute oxycodone.

According to U.S. Department of Justice investigators, “Margy” Temponeras operated a front for drug-dealing called Unique Pain Management Clinic with her father, for years. They found that from June 2005 until May 2011, the doctor daddy-daughter duo routinely saw two dozen “patients” each day, and charged them $200 or more for prescriptions for thousands of narcotic pills.

Many of these so-called patients received monthly prescriptions for combinations of oxycodone and Xanax. At some point the Temponeras realized that many pharmacies in the Scioto County area had become suspicious, recognizing that hundreds of those coming through their doors were drug abusers and street dealers, and they stopped filling the Temponera’s prescriptions. So Margaret Temponeras  opened her own drug store called Unique Relief, Incorporated next door to the clinic itself. Problem solved.

Both of the Temponera physicians were originally trained as OB-Gyn specialists earlier in their careers. At some point they realized that could make more money by prostituting their medical licenses.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman’s office reports the doctor-drugster scamsters face 20-year federal prison terms when they are sentenced later this Summer. Don’t count on it.

Here’s another look at this most recent medical embarrassment:

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/cincinnati/news/press-releases/trio-charged-with-running-illegal-pill-mill-in-scioto-county

 

Doctor Drug-Pushers: One Year Ago, a Medical Embarrassment Exposed

“I cannot imagine what you have gone through,” the doctor told the families at her sentencing in a low voice. “I have been, and will forever be, praying for all of you.” (Dr Lisa Tseng)

dr-hsiu-ying

Dr “Lisa” Tseng referred to her patients as “druggies”

It was one year ago when a Los Angeles-area physician was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She had been convicted of Murder of 3 – out of at least 8 – of her patients who fatally overdosed from medication she prescribed to them.

In October 2015, Doctor Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng was found guilty of Murder for the deaths of Joey Rovero, age 21; Vu Nguyen, age 28, and Steven Ogle, age 25. These were merely some of her patients who had overdosed and died as a direct result if improper and dangerous volumes of drugs she would dole out on an hourly basis.

Tseng is reportedly the first American physician to be convicted of murder for recklessly prescribing drugs, according to L.A. County District Attorney John Niedermann. But hundreds of other doctor drug-dealers have been locked up over the past 20 years, with assuredly many more to come. The sheer number of corrupt physicians who have turned into criminal “pill mill” operators is astounding.

“This doctor repeatedly ignored warning signs even after several patients died, as she built a new medical clinic in Rowland Heights with the money she made from them, earning $5,000,000 in one three-year period. One patient even overdosed in her office and had to be revived.” (L.A. County District Attorney)

Tseng’s sentencing came as the United States finds itself in the grip of a nasty prescription drug abuse epidemic. The situation was an oft-mentioned theme by presidential candidates during the months prior to the election.

Both law enforcement officials and medical investigators point the finger at criminal and reckless opiate prescriptions as the root of the heroin scourge.

Consider what DEA, bad-doctor-case investigator Mark Nomady has to say, after he so frequently witnessed pill abusers whose drugs were supplied by doctors, end up dead with needles still in their arms.

“You can draw a straight line from pharmaceutical opiates to shooting heroin. At some point they can’t afford the pills, or their doctor gets arrested, and there they are left with a habit they can’t control.”

Prosecutor Niedermann told the court that the Murder charges against Tseng were well-deserved, because she had already been warned by law enforcement, that her patients were overdosing and dying, a year before she was arrested. Nonetheless, she continued selling drugs to drug users.

In at least one instance, the doctor was contacted by the L.A. County Coroner and told that her patients were dying all over town. She disregarded the deaths as “not my problem”.

Nomady, the retired DEA agent, investigated many bad-doctor cases in Southern California until he finally retired.

“One bad doctor can turn a whole town upside down,” he said.

Tseng’s case is actually the perfect example of a drug-pushing, pill-mill operator whose goal was profit – not patient care. She was indeed what law enforcement calls a “dirty doctor” turning patients into long-term addicts who would keep coming back time after time until they, well, died.

Tseng preferred pushing drugs to younger people who paid cash. She performed no meaningful examinations and recorded few notes. When family members would call her office and beg her not to prescribe any more narcotics, she ignored them and continued her wealth-building scheme.

At her sentencing, the judge told the doctor that she had operated a reckless “assembly line” clinic that generated thousands of dollars each day. He pointed out that she was still blaming others for the ugly case, even after she was arrested.

Tseng, who has 2 children, ages 12 and 9, may spend the rest of her life in prison. She will be eligible for parole at age 77.

Time to focus on ‘pill mill’ criminals

Over the past 5 years DEA agents have brought focus on “pill mills” nationwide. In 2014, law enforcement in New York arrested 2 dozen people – many of them physicians – for flooding the streets with 5,000,000 oxycodone pills.

Not long after, the U.S. Justice Department announced the “largest pharmaceutical-related takedown in the DEA’s history,” including 24 doctors and pharmacists, in a drug distribution conspiracy of addictive drugs in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

In 2013, another Southern California MD, Alvin Yee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for drug-pushing out of Orange County Starbucks coffee shops, no less.

In December of last year in Santa Barbara, Doctor Julio Diaz was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for catering to drug addicts who paid him cash for prescriptions. Called “the Candy Man” by some of his patients, “Diaz was seen as a lethal danger by other physicians in town. They kept records that documented Paramedic transports of his patients to emergency rooms. This particular doctor drug-pusher is believed to have been involved in 20 patient deaths, although like so many other lab coat loons, he was never convicted of Murder.

In January of last year, law enforcement raided the office of a psychiatrist in Atlanta, after 12 of his patients died of prescription drug overdoses. The doctor was charged with prescribing addictive narcotics to people with no medical need.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Luotto Wolf, who has also prosecuted bad doctors, says she was stunned by the number of patients who turn to heroin, once they get hooked on prescription pills.

“These are people who never in a million years thought they’d be injecting themselves,” she said.

Niedermann, the L.A. County Deputy District Attorney, said he knew nothing about prescription drug scams before being assigned to his first case in 2008. In that case, he won a conviction against physician who was pulling in $1,000,000 a year in cash, by catering to addicts. That doctor was sentenced to 5 years in state prison.

Since then, in just the L.A.-area alone, Niedermann has gotten convictions against 7 more doctors for illegal drug pushing.

And folks, the beat goes on.

Here’s another view:

https://www.thefix.com/california-doctor-found-guilty-murder-overprescribing-pills

Two More Doctor Drug-Pushers Locked Up. Some Things Just Never Change

dr-christensen-fox

Dr John Christensen; Dr Stuart Fox

 

In Palm Beach County Florida another physician was sent off to state prison this month after being found guilty of narcotic drug pushing. And his daffy-doc buddy won’t be far behind.

Doctor Stuart Fox, age 65, walked out of Judge Dina Keever’s courtroom with his hands in shackles. He is merely one of more than 300 physicians nationside convicted last year for drug-pushing – specifically in his case, Conspiracy to traffic in oxycodone.

The end of this sordid case – which began when Fox was arrested in 2013 –came 10 days after Judge Keever held off sentencing his former partner in crime, Doctor John Christensen. Christensen, also 65, had already confessed in court to being responsible for 2 patient overdose deaths, as well as Conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

A former Palm Beach County doctor, John Christensen, was sentenced to just 1 year in federal prison on healthcare fraud. As part of a plea arrangement with state prosecutors, the federal sentence will serve as Christensen’s punishment for the overdose deaths of 2 patients, along with a conspiracy to traffic oxycodone charge.

Christensen, who had owned and operated 3 clinics in Daytona Beach, West Palm Beach and  Port St. Lucie, also begins his prison term this month. Authorities said Fox worked at Christensen’s West Palm Beach office. Both MDs were arrested on July 11, 2013, on similar drug scheme charges.

Christensen was originally charged with 2 counts of First Degree Murder, but the charges were reduced to Manslaughter in exchange for a guilty plea. He took responsibility for the deaths of Florence Garrett on Sept. 27, 2007, and Pawel Staniszewski on Aug. 7, 2008 – both were residents of West Palm Beach. The former doctor was accused of prescribing oxycodone and an anti-anxiety drug to Garrett, and prescribing methadone to Staniszewski, before they died.

Here’s another look at this case:

http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/doctor-charged-murder-overdoses#stream/0

Doctor/Drug-Dealer in Trouble. New Year . . . Same Old Healthcare Scamsters

dr-albert-r-cowie

There was a time, not that long ago, when Albert R. Cowie was a well-known and well-regarded radiologist with a growing suburban practice.

Now, he’s a recovering drug addict facing a recommended sentence of 33 months in federal prison.

Cowie, a 38-year-old graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, was scheduled to appear in court Monday, but his sentencing was postponed just hours before his appearance. As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Cowie admitted writing fraudulent prescriptions for painkillers and using them to feed his own drug problem.

“I was addicted to those medications,” Cowie told U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo last year. “I issued scripts for those medications and then used some of those medications.”

In his plea agreement, Cowie said he wrote illegal prescriptions for his now-former wife, but prosecutors claim he also wrote them for two others and, in each case, received some of the painkillers for his personal use.

He pleaded guilty to two felony charges, health care fraud and obtaining controlled substances by fraud.

“It started with Lortab,” Cowie said of the numerous painkillers he took over the years, “and then Percocet.”

Arrested in 2015 outside his offices at Diagnostic Imaging Associates in Amherst, Cowie was initially accused of writing 280 illegal prescriptions over a four-year period ending in early 2014. He also was charged with establishing a relationship with a prostitute, injecting her with heroin on one occasion and later giving her prescriptions for Xanax and Percocet.

Cowie did not admit to those crimes as part of his plea deal, but prosecutors said he agreed the allegations at the root of those charges could be considered by the court in weighing a prison sentence.

Cowie, who received his undergraduate degree from Canisius College, is the fifth Western New York doctor to be charged with distributing illegal drugs over the past several years. His guilty plea last year came just 3 days after Dr. Pravin V. Mehta of Niagara Falls was sentenced to 2 years in prison for illegally dispensing pain medication.

At the time of Cowie’s guilty plea last year, defense attorney Robert M. Goldstein said the future of his client’s medical license was still up in the air.

Cowie reportedly signed a consent decree with the state that will delay action on his license until after his sentencing. He is currently without the authority to prescribe medications.

Cowie’s guilty plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and Amherst Police.

(We thank reporter Phil Fairbanks of The Buffalo News for this story)