Two Atlanta pharmacists have been ordered to serve 19- and 20-year prison sentences and pay $5 million in restitution for illegally selling opioids, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia announced Friday.
“The defendants used their pharmacy to supply pills to patients of a known ‘pill mill’ and then laundered millions of dollars to conceal their crimes,” Pak said in a news release. “These pharmacists fed opiate addictions among so many as a means to sustain their lifestyles. Now, they will begin to serve lengthy prison sentences and pay back the state of Georgia to account for some of the harm they caused to the community. This money will go to help the individuals whose lives have been scarred by addiction.”
In May 2009, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, working with the IRS, began investigating the AMARC pain clinic, located on Lakewood Avenue in Atlanta, and nearby Medicine Center Pharmacy, after receiving information that the clinic and pharmacy were illegitimately prescribing and dispensing pain pills to drug addicts and drug dealers, Pak said. Rosemary Ofume and Donatus Iriele, a married couple, ran the Medicine Center Pharmacy, located across the street from one of the pain clinics, he said.
Customers waited for hours at the pain clinic and paid cash for prescriptions for oxycodone/hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma (the “holy trinity” for resale on the street) before purchasing the pills at high prices from Ofume and Iriele’s pharmacy, Pak said. He said that during the investigation the business was purchasing “astronomical” quantities of oxycodone and other pain pills—11 times the average for other pharmacies in the state.
District Judge Steve C. Jones sentenced the couple. Jones also ordered them to surrender nearly $17,000 in cash seized from the pharmacy, $134,000 from their bank accounts, two BMWs and a Mercedes-Benz.
Defense attorneys could not be reached.