Physician guilty of conspiring with Pagans motorcycle gang in illegal drug distribution ring

A federal jury has found Pennsylvania physician William J. O'Brien III, DO, guilty of causing a death through the illegal distribution of controlled substances, according to the Department of Justice.

The jury found Dr. O'Brien guilty of two counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, one count of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death as well as 117 counts of distribution of controlled substances, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and making false statement under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club were charged in the conspiracy with Dr. O'Brien. Evidence presented a trial showed that Dr. O'Brien conspired with members of the Pagans to distribute large quantities of controlled substances for profit. Through the scheme, patients were recruited and would pay Dr. O'Brien $200 cash for prescriptions for medically unnecessary controlled substances. After filling the prescriptions, the patients would give the pills to Pagan members and associates, who would sell the pills to drug dealers.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Dr. O'Brien generated at least $20,000 per week in illegal cash proceeds from his drug dealing activities. Between March 2012 and January 2015, Dr. O'Brien wrote prescriptions for 378,914 oxycodone pills and about 160,492 methadone pills given to his co-conspirators for resale, according to the DOJ.

The jury determined Dr. O'Brien's prescribing practices led to one patient's death.

In 2013, Dr. O'Brien prescribed a deadly combination of oxycodone, methadone and cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer, to 36-year-old Joseph Ennis, who subsequently died from the combination of these substances.

Dr. O'Brien had medical offices in Philadelphia and Levittown, Pa.

"We are thankful the jury saw the obvious — that the defendant is a dangerous person exploiting his medical license to operate as a drug dealer," said Special Agent-in-Charge Nick DiGiulio. "We look forward to the day he receives a long prison term."

Dr. O'Brien faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison with a maximum sentence of life. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5.

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