Texas oncologist sentenced to 20 years for role in pill mill scheme

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Caesar Mark Capistrano, MD, an oncologist in Fort Worth, Texas, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for operating a pill mill, the Department of Justice said June 3. 

In January, Dr. Capistrano, 61, was convicted at trial on three counts of conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.  

Knowing they would be used for illicit street use, Dr. Capistrano and his associate, Tameka Lachelle Noel, MD, issued prescriptions for a number of drugs, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, the DOJ said. 

Mr. Capistrano wrote prescriptions for more than 524,000 doses of hydrocodone, 430,000 doses of carisoprodol, 77,000 doses of alprazolam and more than 2 million doses of promethazine with codeine during a nine-year period of running the conspiracy. The physicians would sometimes pair the prescriptions with non-controlled substances to make them seem legitimate, according to the DOJ. 

As part of the scheme, the physicians used recruiters to attract people from local homeless shelters to pose as patients. Once the controlled substances were prescribed, recruiters paid the fraudulent patients. Recruiters also paid the clinic for the number of drugs prescribed and a number of pharmacies involved in the conspiracy would then charge the recruiters to fill each prescription. Ultimately, the drugs were diverted for resale on the streets. 

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