Amherst Doctor Indicted on Charges of Distributing Controlled Substances, Obtaining Prescriptions by Fraud and Health Care Fraud
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 10-count indictment charging Dr. Albert R. Cowie, 37, of Amherst, NY, with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance by fraud, conspiracy to commit a drug felony and health care fraud. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney George C. Burgasser, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a complaint filed earlier, between January 2010 and March 22, 2014, the defendant, a practicing radiologist, wrote 280 illegal prescriptions for controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. The prescriptions were distributed to three individuals who then went to local pharmacies and had the scripts filled. The individuals retained some of the controlled substances for personal use but returned the remainder of the narcotics to Cowie for his own use.
The defendant also established a relationship with a prostitute he met at an area strip club. As the relationship continued, Cowie provided $200 a day to the prostitute to support a heroin addiction. The defendant allegedly also injected the prostitute with heroin on one occasion. Subsequently, the defendant gave the prostitute prescriptions for Xanax and Percocet.
During a meeting between Cowie and a confidential witness, the defendant advised the witness to lie to insurance investigators about his alleged prescription fraud. The witness is quoted as saying to the defendant “okay so just say they were written for me even though they were written for you…is what you’re saying? Cowie replied “right.”
The indictment is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, under the direction of NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, and the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.