An elderly doctor and his wife, who called Westchester home are heading to prison after being busted running a black market pill mill that “pumped out” more than $77 million in painkillers onto the black market over the course of several years.
Scarsdale residents Rogelio Lucas, 80, and his wife, Lydia Lucas, 82, who operated a medical practice on the Upper West Side, were found guilty of distributing approximately 3.2 million pills of Oxycodone, which flooded the streets of Manhattan.
Rogelio Lucas received a term of between 1 year and four months to four years in prison on one count of conspiracy and another 1 and a half years on each of 29 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, all to run concurrently. His wife was sentenced to a term of between one and three years in prison for conspiracy and one year for each of the 29 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, also to run concurrently.
The Lucas’ must also serve one year of post-release supervision. A civil asset forfeiture proceeding has been scheduled. Lucas was also required to surrender his medical license in April 2016 while the criminal charges against him were pending.
The sentence comes following a four-week trial that concluded with a guilty verdict on all 30 counts earlier this year. According to reports, they could have accepted a plea bargain that would have allowed them to avoid jail, but they instead took the case to court, and lost. The trial included testimony from 17 witnesses and more than 350 exhibits.
The investigation into the Lucas’ found that prior to 2009, they operated legitimate medical services through a primary care practice and accepted insurance. From Jan. 2, 2009 through May 13, 2015, “the practice underwent a radical transformation into a pill mill that churned out thousands of illegitimate prescriptions for Oxycodone in exchange for illegal cash payments."
The Lucas’ were arrested on June 9, 2015 in their Manhattan apartment. Following their arrests, investigators searched the doctor’s office - where Lydia served as a manager - their Manhattan apartment and their Black Birch Lane home in Scarsdale, where they found more than $600,000 in cash.
According to Lucas’ prescribing history, he wrote upwards of 50 prescriptions for Oxycodone each day at the peak of the scheme. By 2014, investigators said that 93 percent of his patients were paying in cash. Investigators said that street-level drug dealers known as “crew chiefs,” established a presence at the medical office and sent people in as patients to obtain prescriptions from Lucas, who “handed out prescriptions to nearly every person who set foot in his examination room.”
Lydia Lucas served as the “gatekeeper” for the office, and took care of the books. “Patients” who received a prescription typically paid $120 per visit, while those who saw the doctor and did not get Oxycodone were charged approximately $80 per visit. As the “gatekeeper,” Lydia Lucas reviewed patient files “with an eye toward maintaining the appearance of a legitimate practice.”
“The sentence handed down by the court is a reflection of the serious consequences that practitioners who abandon their oaths to ‘do no harm’ should expect to face,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan stated. “Rather than serving the communities whose trust they had gained, Rogelio Lucas and Lydia Lucas chose instead to abuse that trust and profit off of the opioid crisis ravaging our country.”
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