Doctor charged for unlawfully distributing opioids

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A doctor made his initial appearance today in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to face illegal distribution of opioids charges.

According to court documents, Dr. Ndubuisi Joseph Okafor, 63, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, allegedly distributed oxycodone to individuals outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose from his medical practice in Washington. Okafor allegedly performed only cursory evaluations of individuals, and further solicited and received cash inside the examination rooms of his clinic in exchange for opioid prescriptions.

Okafor is charged with 16 counts of illegal distribution of opioids. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, US Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office, and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

The FBI and HHS-OIG are investigating the case, with assistance from the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and DEA.

Principal Assistant Deputy Chief Kilby Macfadden of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant US Attorney Meredith Mayer-Dempsey for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the New England Prescription Opioid (NEPO) Strike Force. Since its inception in late 2018, the NEPO and the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force and has partnered with federal and state law enforcement agencies and US Attorneys’ Offices throughout New England and Appalachia to prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids. Over the past four years, NEPO and ARPO have charged over 115 defendants, collectively responsible for issuing prescriptions for over 115 million controlled substance dosage units. As a result, to date, more than 70 defendants have been convicted. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.

Information about available treatment programs is available as follows:

Maryland patients receiving care from this practice who wish to obtain information on how to find treatment for mental and substance use disorders, where to access naloxone and other harm reduction services, and information about crisis helplines can utilize these Maryland resources:

  • Search for substance use treatment facilities through findtreatment.gov/.
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org, a Maryland suicide and behavioral health crisis hotline.
  • Public Overdose Response Programs in Maryland supply naloxone and may be found using this list. You can also visit health.maryland.gov/pha/NALOXONE/Pages/Home.aspx to see a locator map. Naloxone may also be found in your local pharmacy and billed to insurance and Medicaid.

District of Columbia residents needing information about mental health or substance use disorder services can call the Department of Behavioral Health 24/7 Access Helpline 1-888-793-4357 or visit www.dbh.dc.gov.

In addition, those needing access to opioid treatment service can contact the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 National Helpline for referrals to treatment services at 1-800-662-4359. 

Medications obtained illicitly are very dangerous as they are often not what they appear, and frequently contain contaminants and extremely potent substances such as fentanyl that greatly increase the risk of overdose and death.

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