BALTIMORE (March 31, 2016)—Walter Moffett, age 51, of Chestertown, Maryland pleaded guilty today to his participation in a drug conspiracy in connection with the operation of purported pain management clinics that were actually "pill mills." Eight co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The guilty pleas was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration—Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; Chief Gary Gardner of the Howard County Police Department; Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry; St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George's County Police Department; Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans; Chief Cathy L. Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department; Commissioner Kevin Davis of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police.
"Pharmaceutical pills can be just as harmful as illegal drugs when they are used without proper medical supervision and without valid medical need," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "Abuse of oxycodone is one of our most significant drug enforcement challenges, and it contributes to the epidemic of heroin overdose deaths."
"Last year, DEA and its partners combined their resources to identify these drug dealers who cunningly attempted to bypass the Maryland Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (CRISP). The result of these efforts was the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization that was making a toxic profit off of addiction. These "runners" and "distributors" were allowing a countless number of highly addictive prescription opioids to hit the streets of Maryland, Delaware, Washington, DC, and Virginia," said Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration—Washington Field Division. "The DEA wants to thank our law enforcement partners for their unwavering commitment to eradicating these drug dealers, who are destroying lives and making enormous profits from the diversion of pain medication."
According to court documents, "pill mills," routinely engage in the practice of prescribing and dispensing controlled substances—primarily oxycodone—outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. The owners kept the profits from the pill mill operations and from the sales of oxycodone in cash. According to the indictments, the owners recruited "distributors" and "runners" to visit their clinics so that they would profit from the cash fees charged for an office visit. Runners are recruited—usually by a distributor—to enter pill mill clinics with fictitious complaints of pain in order to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances. Typically, runners filled the prescription and gave the oxycodone tablets they received to the distributor. Runners were typically paid in either cash or oxycodone tablets for their services. The distributors then generally sold the pills for a profit.
According to his plea agreement, since at least 2014, Moffett conspired with other individuals to distribute oxycodone. During the course of the conspiracy, Moffett obtained large quantities of oxycodone 30 mg pills by visiting pain clinics, including PG Wellness Center, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and A Plus Pain Center, in Washington, DC, and getting prescriptions from the doctors working there. Moffett also worked with others to go to the clinics to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone, also without a medical need. Those individuals then filled the prescriptions at various pharmacies in the Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia areas and provided the pills to Moffett and other conspirators. Moffett, who was an addict, took some of the pills himself and sold the remaining pills to co-conspirators for a profit. Those co-conspirators then re-sold the oxycodone pills for up to $30 per pill.
Obtaining and filling the prescriptions for oxycodone required a significant amount of coordination between Moffett and his co-conspirators. For example, they had to ensure that individuals were not caught getting oxycodone prescriptions from multiple clinics at the same time. The Maryland Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (known as CRISP) allowed practitioners to report all narcotic prescriptions so that other practitioners could make sure that patients were not obtaining multiple prescriptions. Moffett and other members of the conspiracy regularly sought to circumvent the limitations imposed by CRISP and other states' prescription drug monitoring programs. During the course of the conspiracy, investigators overheard Moffett discussing with others conspirators the details of his and others' visits to the clinics, filling the prescriptions, and distributing the pills.
During Moffett's participation in the conspiracy at least 340,000 mgs of oxycodone were distributed.
U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis scheduled sentencing for Moffett on August 12, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Co-defendants Danielle Silberstein, age 32, of Waldorf; Peter Snyder, age 35, of Ocean City, Maryland; Robert Long, age 35, of Mechanicsville, Maryland; Jamie Davis, age 29, of La Plata, Maryland; Ronald Tennyson, age 33, of Mechanicsville; Terrell Downing, age 26, of New Carrollton, Maryland; and John Fields, age 67, of Temple Hills, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Ronald Rust, age 45, of Alexandria, Virginia, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison. Co-defendant Melissa Catlett, age 39, of King George, Virginia passed away before her case was adjudicated.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DEA Tactical Diversion Squads from Baltimore and Washington DC., HHS-Office of Inspector General, Howard County Police Department, Charles County Sheriff's Office, St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office, Prince George's County Police Department, Calvert County Sheriff's Office, Metropolitan Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore City Police Department, and Virginia State Police for their work in this pharmaceutical investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Kenneth S. Clark and Joshua Ferrentino, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.