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DOJ Issues Second Criminal Indictment in Three Months of Opioid Executives

On July 17, 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Miami-Luken, Inc., a pharmaceutical distributor. The indictment has garnered attention due to the named defendants and the allegations. Besides Miami-Luken, the indictment named individually (1) Anthony Rattini, President of Miami-Luken; (2) James Barclay, Compliance Officer of Miami-Luken; (3) Devonna Miller-West, a pharmacist and owner of a pharmacy that purchased controlled substances from Miami-Luken; and (4) Samuel R. Ballengee, a pharmacist and pharmacy owner that purchased controlled substances from Miami-Luken.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances. From January 2008 through December 2015, the defendants allegedly conspired to distribute controlled substances, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, for illegitimate medical purposes. Miami-Luken, Mr. Barclay, and Mr. Rattini are alleged to have ignored signs of abuse and diversion by distributing over 2.3 million dosage units of oxycodone and 2.6 million dosage units of hydrocodone to Mr. Miller-West and his pharmacy in a town of just 1,394 residents.

The July 17, 2019, indictment is the second criminal case that the DOJ has brought in the last three months accusing a drug distributer and its executives of improper and excessive opioid sales, and demonstrates the DOJ’s willingness to charge pharmacists and pharmacies. In April 2019, the DOJ charged Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc., a pharmaceutical distributer, and two of its former executives for distributing and selling opioids to pharmacies for illegitimate medical purposes. The DOJ alleged that Laurence Doud III, one of the executives, “directed RDC’s continued distribution of controlled substances to these pharmacy customers that he knew were dispensing narcotics for illicit purposes, despite knowing that the pharmacies’ dispensing practices were in contravention of the [Controlled Substances Act].”

Like the July 2019 indictment against Miami-Luken, the April 2019 indictment against Rochester also alleged that the defendants ignored indications of unlawful dispensing by pharmacies. The DOJ’s strategy of aggressively pursuing criminal charges against both companies and their executives has quickly become its modus operandi in its fight against the opioid crisis.

The attorneys at CCLB represent both companies and individuals in connection with government investigations, both criminal and civil, particularly investigations related to allegations of healthcare fraud and abuse. If you have any questions related to such matters, please call us at (404) 262-6505.