FORT SMITH – Fort Smith physician and Rogers physician were sentenced today on one count each of Distribution of a Controlled Substance without an Effective Prescription. The Honorable Judge P. K. Holmes III presided over the sentencing hearings in the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.
According to court documents, Cecil W. Gaby, 71, of Fort Smith, a licensed physician in the State of Arkansas, pleaded guilty on December 18, 2019 to acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice without a legitimate medical purpose in dispensing a Schedule II controlled substance namely, oxycodone, to an individual, thereby causing the death of the individual. Between January 2016 and July 2018, Gaby was an owner and operator of the Hinderliter Pain Clinic in Barling, Arkansas and from July 2018 through November 2018, was owner and operator of the Gaby Medical Clinic in Fort Smith, Arkansas. From January 2016 through November 2018, Gaby issued more than 11,000 prescriptions for opioids and/or benzodiazepines. Gaby prescribed approximately 1,156,044 dosage units of Schedule II controlled substances to 347 patients (3,332 pills per patient over the course of 2 years); 98% of Gaby’s patients were prescribed at least one opioid (hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, etc.); 94% of Gaby’s patients received either multiple narcotics or a combination of narcotics and sedatives; and 27% of Gaby’s patients were age 40 or younger. Evidence in the case revealed that Gaby issued a large number of prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice. From 2016 through 2018, several of Gaby’s patients died of drug overdose or related causes. As part of his plea, Gaby admitted that prescriptions he issued directly resulted in the death of one of his patients. Gaby was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
Robin Ann Cox, 64, of Rogers, was employed by the Arkansas Medical Clinic (AMC) in Rogers, Arkansas. Cox and the owner of AMC contacted the DEA by telephone to report that prescriptions from Cox‘s previous employment had been fraudulently written and filled. Cox specifically identified a prescription for a patient written and filled on May 17, 2019, and a prescription for a patient dated May 19, 2019 and filled on May 20, 2019. During the investigation into these prescriptions, the DEA discovered that the prescriptions were for Schedule II opioid medications, and that Cox had written one of the prescriptions while meeting with the patient in the parking lot of a restaurant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division. The prescription was not written in conjunction with an appropriate medical examination and therefore was issued outside the course of a legitimate medical practice. Cox was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release
“The abuse of opioids and other pain medications is an epidemic that is destroying the lives of many people across the Western District of Arkansas. We will continue to use all the investigation and prosecution tools available to us to identify and prosecute those who are responsible for the over-prescription of these dangerous drugs. It is my sincere hope that these cases today send a strong message to all of those in our District who would consider operating a “pill mill” or otherwise seeking to profit from the over-prescribing of opioid drugs and other pain-killers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes.
“The abuse of prescription drugs remains a significant problem in our communities. This abuse often leads to addiction, shattered lives, and even death. For the health and safety of our citizens, DEA and our law enforcement partners in Arkansas and beyond will continue to target those who illegally distribute these potentially dangerous drugs. It is particularly disappointing when trusted medical professionals are engaged in the diversion of controlled substances. We hope that the convictions and sentencings of these Physicians will serve as a reminder to anyone who might illegally divert pharmaceuticals that they will be held accountable for the harm they cause,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DEA Diversion Little Rock, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS), Arkansas State Medical Board, the Fort Smith Police Department, the Springdale Police Department, and the Rogers Police Department investigated the case.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Gardner prosecuted the case for the United States.
Cox’s prosecution is part of the Western District of Arkansas’ Operation Pillusional, which is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illicit drug supply.
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