HOUSTON (CN) — A Houston doctor who used his prescription pad like an ATM machine, prescribing 1.6 million oxycodone pills in two years, faces up to life in prison after a jury convicted him Tuesday of drug conspiracy.
After a 14-day trial and 8 hours of deliberation the jury convicted Richard Evans, 71, of all 19 charges: eight counts of mail fraud, five counts of illegal distribution of narcotics, five counts of money laundering, and conspiracy.
Evans faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines at his Oct. 17 sentencing.
He was indicted in January for the conspiracy that ran from Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2013.
Patients testified that Evans charged them $200 to $240 cash for their first office visit, at which time he wrote them prescriptions for oxycodone or hydrocodone, synthetic opiates that have fueled a nationwide epidemic of heroin overdoses.
People who got hooked on the pills that are now harder to get because of a government crackdown turned to heroin, a natural opiate that is cheaper and of higher quality than ever.
The Obama administration reclassified oxycodone and hydrocodone in 2014, so patients could receive the drugs only for up to 90 days and could not get a second prescription.
“The jury heard that patients were told they could obtain a new prescription in 30 days without an office visit as long as the patient sent a money order to Evans for $200-$240. Patients were also told they could obtain a third prescription without an office visit as long as they again sent the payment to Evans,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Evans’ co-defendant, pharmacist David Devido, 78, of Houston, pleaded guilty the first day of trial.
At his Houston pharmacy, Devido filled prescriptions that Evans wrote for the pills, each one of which now has a street value of $40, prosecutors said.
The men distributed 1.6 million oxycodone pills within two years and raised $2.4 million.
Devido will be sentenced on Sept. 26.
Evans, a former oncologist, signed off on prescriptions written by a nurse practitioner without examining or interviewing the patients, according to an undercover video shown to the jury.
“They also heard from a defense expert witness physician who testified he was surprised that more than 800 of the patients were from the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area. The expert could only bring himself to say that a doctor who pre-signs prescriptions is practicing ‘poorly,'” U.S. Attorney Ken Magidson said.
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