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October 06, 2016

Philly doctor gets 30 years in prison for running pill mill with biker gang

A Philadelphia doctor was sentenced to prison Wednesday for operating a pill mill with the help of a motorcycle gang and giving drugs that resulted in a patient's death.

William J. O'Brien III, 50, was given a 30-year sentence for allegedly conspiring with the Pagans Motorcycle Club in the drug scheme and netting himself about $2 million, prosecutors said.

“Those doctors who distribute dangerous prescription drugs for no legitimate medical purpose need to be held fully accountable when their irresponsible conduct leads to death and addiction among patients," U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said in a press release.

According to prosecutors, members of the Pagans — a gang known for "violence and drug dealing" — would recruit "pseudo-patients" to send to O'Brien, who would write them fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs. Pagans associates would then resell the drugs on the street.

More than 700,000 pills were distributed from March 2012 to January 2015 as part of the scheme, prosecutors said.

As part of the pill mill, O'Brien unnecessarily prescribed oxycodone, methadone, and cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer, to Joseph Ennis, 38, of Bucks County, who had sought out O'Brien's help after a car accident. The drug cocktail led to Ennis' death.

O'Brien was charged in July 2015 along with nine co-defendants in a 139-count indictment. Among the defendants were members of the Pagans and Elizabeth Hibbs, O'Brien's ex-wife.

O'Brien and Hibbs were also charged with conspiracy to engage in money laundering, conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements under oath in bankruptcy proceedings.

O'Brien pleaded guilty to all charges except for four distribution counts, and all other co-defendants pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

In addition to the prison sentence, O'Brien must serve five years of supervised release, pay restitution of $342,504 to a bankruptcy trustee and pay a special assessment of $12,300.