Healthcare

Former CEO of drug firm convicted of conspiring to illegally distribute opioids

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A New York jury on Wednesday convicted the former CEO of Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC) of conspiring to unlawfully distribute opioids and conspiring to defraud the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Laurence Doud, 78, was convicted in a Manhattan federal court of unlawfully distributing oxycodone and fentanyl, according to a statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

He was convicted following a two-week jury trial. 

The department said that the RDC CEO “knowingly and intentionally” violated federal narcotics laws by distributing the highly addictive drugs to pharmacy customers that were being “sold and used illicitly” from 2012 to 2017. 

Doud’s now-bankrupt company, RDC, was one of the nation’s largest drug distribution companies. 

The DOJ added that at both Doud and senior administration’s direction, the RDC “distributed controlled substances to those pharmacies even after identifying “red flags” of diversion.” The red flags included dispensing highly controlled substances in large quantities about medical standards and “accepting a high percentage of cash for controlled substance prescriptions.” 

Doud was also convicted for covering up his tracks on the suspicious behavior, which prosecutors said amounted to defrauding the DEA. The DOJ said that Doud made deliberate decisions not to “investigate, monitor, or report to the DEA pharmacy customers” that he and others knew that their distributed products were being used and sold illicitly. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called it a “first of its kind prosecution” in which a drug distributor and company faced criminal charges for trafficking opioids.

“Laurence Doud was held responsible for contributing to the opioid epidemic in the country by conspiring with others in his company to ship massive amounts of dangerous and highly-addictive oxycodone and fentanyl to pharmacies that he knew were illegally dispensing those controlled substances to drug dealers and addicts,” he said in a statement.

“The Southern District of New York will continue to bring to justice those responsible for the opioid epidemic — whether they are street level dealers or boardroom executives,” Williams added.

In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos said Doud was shipping drugs to “dirty doctors” and “drug dealers in lab coats,” according to Reuters. Witnesses called by prosecutors included former RDC employees.

According to Reuters, Doud’s attorneys said their client was a “scapegoat” and they will appeal the verdict.

Doud is scheduled to be sentenced in June. The trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum of 10 years, while defrauding the DEA carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Tags drugs Fentanyl health crisis Jury trial Laurence Doud Manhattan New York Opioid epidemic opioids Oxycodone pharmacies Rochester Drug Cooperative
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