Philadelphia Doctor, Receptionist Charged in Pill Mill Scheme
Prosecutors today announced the indictment of two Philadelphians, a doctor and a clinic receptionist, for running a “pill mill” scheme out of offices in Philly and Levittown, Bucks County. Federal authorities charged William O’Brien III, 49, and Angela Rongione, 29, with one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
If convicted, both could face a 20 year sentence on the conspiracy charge.
O’Brien, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, is also charged with 26 counts of illegally prescribing oxycodone and Xanax without a legitimate medical purpose. Each of those charges carries with it a five-year term and “substantial fines and criminal forfeiture,” per the federal government. In one example from the indictment, the government alleges an FBI agent received prescription slips for 1,080 pills over several visits.
The indictment says O’Brien wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and Xanax for a fee without referrals or medical examinations. The government alleges O’Brien charged $250 for the first visit and prescription and $200 for each additional visit to get refills. Oxycodone is a Schedule II substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which means the government classifies it as having a currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a Schedule IV drug (legitimate medical use; low potential for abuse and dependence).
The government also says O’Brien falsified medical documents — “medical” is in quotes in the release — to make it look like patients of his had received medical treatment and examinations when they hadn’t. The indictment also alleges O’Brien traded a prescription for a sex act last October. He and his wife were profiled in a 2008 Inquirer article after buying the penthouse at 1830 Rittenhouse Square. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the beauty,” he told the paper at that time. “It’s a light show every night.” Previously, O’Brien was the Democratic candidate for coroner in Bucks County in 1999; he lost. He did win $13,038, however, at a February 2013 poker tournament at the Borgata. He took the final hand with pocket kings.
O’Brien was once well-known in Bucks County for operating medical and pain management practices, according to the Bucks County Courier Times. But his corporation, WJO Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and O’Brien later saw the FBI raid several of his medical offices. The feds at that time confiscated his “self-invented and patented multi-person hyperbaric oxygen chamber,” per the Courier.
O’Brien has generally good ratings, if in a limited sample size, on doctor-rating websites. O’Brien operated out of an office on the 9800 block of Bustleton Avenue in Far Northeast Philadelphia. He had an office at 49 Rolling Lane in Levittown.
Read the indictment below.