Feds Bring New Charges Against Alleged “Pill Mill” Doctor
Dr. William O’Brien III didn’t just run a “pill mill” out of his office, federal prosecutors said Thursday. His prescriptions allegedly led to the death of a patient. They also allegedly got him mixed up with a notorious motorcycle gang — a group of members and their associates who the feds say sported such nicknames as “Tomato Pie,” “Nose,” “Stalker,” and “Redneck.”
Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced the new charges and allegations against O’Brien, who was originally charged in January for the alleged “pill mill” scheme. The information about the patient’s death, as well as the involvement of the Pagan motorcycle gang, were among the new bits of information in Thursday’s unveiling. Overall, the new indictment adds 95 counts to the case against O’Brien to the charges he already faced — and, for the first time, also charges his ex-wife, Elizabeth Hibbs, with participating in the scheme. (See the indictment below.)
The U.S. Justice Department said said that other eight new defendants, along with O’Brien, were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including oxycodone, methadone and amphetamines. The eight defendants are Michael Thompson, Peter Marrandino, Joseph Mehl, Patrick Treacy, Charles Johnson, Frank Corazo, Jr., Jennifer Lynn Chambers (each from Philadelphia) and Joseph Mitchell Sr. (from West Deptford, New Jersey), and six of them were arrested by federal agents Thursday morning.
According to the indictment, Treacy — also known as “Redneck” — and Mitchell were members of the Pagans, a motorcycle club long linked to criminal activity.
Feds say that under the scheme, O’Brien, would sell “medically unnecessary” prescriptions for controlled substances to fake patients recruited by the Pagans and their associates. In return, O’Brien would typically receive $200 cash payments — described as “co-pays” — so that he could hide the money from federal bankruptcy court and creditors. (He had declared bankruptcy in 2010.) After O’Brien’s “patients” received their pills, they allegedly submitted them to the defendants who then sold the pills to drug dealers.
The indictment says that between March 2012 and this past January, O’Brien illegally wrote prescriptions to illegally distribute around 378,914 pills of varying dosage. Combined, the pills have an estimated street value of $5 million, and O’Brien took for himself $2 million in cash from the alleged drug trafficking conspiracy, the feds said.
The charge of “distribution of controlled substances resulting in death” against O’Brien comes as a result of the combined use of drugs by a patient (identified in court records as “Person 21”) to whom O’Brien allegedly prescribe oxycodone, methadone, and cyclobenzaprine in December 2013 out of his Levittown office. “The death of Person #21 resulted from the combined use of these substances,” the feds said.
O’Brien and Hibbs also face money laundering and bankruptcy fraud charges related to the alleged scheme.
If O’Brien is convicted of each charge, he faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years, with a maximum sentence of life, the press release says. All of the other defendants face “substantial prison terms and fines,” prosecutors said.
The FBI, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Inspector General of Health and Human Services all participated in the investigation.