Experienced Defense In Federal Prescription Drug Distribution And Fraud Charges
As a result of the opioid crisis, numerous health care professionals face scrutiny from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and federal officials to prevent the illegal distribution of highly addictive medications like oxycodone and fentanyl. Unfortunately, even a lawful and ethical health care provider can have their reputation and career ruined just from an investigation.
During these inquiries, the government completely disrupts day-to-day operations as it attempts to gather information in the form of interviews with patients and employees, patient records, court-ordered subpoenas and other data. This process can create a lot of stress for a provider and organization, and, therefore, it is of the utmost importance to have legal counsel throughout the process. With nearly 30 years of experience, including years as a state and federal prosecutor, I, attorney Peter Katz, can effectively guide you through every step of an investigation. Call the Law Offices of Peter Katz at 609-900-2648 for a free and confidential consultation.
Prescription Drug Fraud: Crimes And Punishment
Prescription drug crimes are often prosecuted as violations of federal distribution laws in addition to health care fraud. The most common types of prescription drug crimes include possession of controlled substances without valid prescriptions, use of controlled substances without valid prescriptions, forgery of a prescription and doctor shopping. Doctor shopping refers to when an individual goes to multiple physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions of the same drug. Conviction of prescription drug fraud can lead to penalties as severe as life imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines. For health care professionals, convictions can also mean probation or even full license suspension.
Defining Illegal Drug Distribution
Although many health care professionals are legally allowed to prescribe or distribute controlled substances, they can still be prosecuted for a federal offense under Title 21 U.S.C. Section 841 if they provide prescriptions that are not medically necessary.
Illegal Drug Distribution: The Criminal Elements
Illegal drug distribution occurs when an individual knowingly provides a controlled substance that the individual knows is a controlled substance. Even among health care professionals, unethical colleagues or simple mistakes can lead to a serious conviction that will take away not only your career but your freedom as well, as a result of incarceration. If you are ever under investigation for a prescription drug crime, do not hesitate to contact me at the Law Offices of Peter Katz to protect your lifestyle and noble profession.
Crimes And Punishment
When federal prosecutors bring prescription drug charges, they frequently utilize the health care fraud statutes (which carry a penalty of 10 to 20 years) and the harsh federal illegal drug distribution laws, like Title 21 U.S.C. Sections 841 and 846. Under these provisions, one could face the steep penalty of life imprisonment and a $1 million fine. These crimes are investigated by the New York State Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications and Prescriptions.
What Is ‘Illegal Distribution?’
When federal prosecutors investigate drug trafficking, their scope is not just limited to instances that we have seen on popular television shows – notably, international drug traffickers smuggling cocaine into the United States. While these examples do make up a lot of efforts on the part of federal prosecutors, they also focus their attention on health care professionals accused of distributing prescription medications unlawfully.
Title 21 U.S.C. Section 841 makes it illegal for any person to knowingly or intentionally distribute a controlled substance unless otherwise authorized under law. If a medical provider, like a doctor or pharmacist, knowingly distributes unnecessary prescription medications, they run the risk of federal charges.
Illegal Drug Distribution: The Criminal Elements
Here are the elements of illegal drug distribution:
- The defendant distributed (sold or gave) the controlled substance knowing it was medically unnecessary
- The defendant did so knowingly or intentionally
- The defendant knew that the substance was a controlled substance
As a society, we value our medical providers. Not only do our nurses, pharmacists and doctors provide us with essential medical care and attention, but they do so after investing a great deal of time and effort into earning the necessary credentials to work in the medical field. Nevertheless, even the most intelligent, hardworking and honest professionals could suddenly find themselves or their employers under prosecutorial scrutiny. On the other hand, perhaps a colleague made a mistake or violated their duty by unnecessarily prescribing medications to patients. No matter the circumstances, alleged or actual involvement in an illegal drug distribution situation could tarnish one’s reputation and end their career.
In the event that DEA, FBI or other federal investigators come to your home or employer with a search warrant and ask to speak with you, your patients or your employees, contact me. Find out more about the cases I’ve represented.
The Sooner You Have Representation, The Better
Once you engage legal representation, we can work to prepare your defense. I will be here for you and will communicate with law enforcement on your behalf. Let’s discuss your next steps. Call the Law Offices of Peter Katz at 609-900-2648 or email me with your contact information to initiate a meeting. I help people in New Jersey and New York.