February 12, 2015

Livonia Doctor Pleads Guilty to Distributing Prescription Pills for Cash

A Livonia doctor pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to distribute prescription pills without a legitimate medical purpose, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dr. Mohammad Batayneh, 68, of Livonia, admitted at his plea hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen that he participated in a conspiracy with others between June 2011 and April 2013. Batayneh, the last of six defendants to plead guilty in the case, admitted that he issued more than 300,000 dosage units of Roxicodone (oxycodone HCl) outside the course of legitimate medical practice. The prescriptions were issued after either a cursory examination or without any examination at all. Batayneh provided the prescriptions to his co-conspirators or to the patients in exchange for cash. Once the prescriptions were filled, the pills were sold on the illicit street market.

Roxicodone is a Schedule II controlled substance that may be prescribed by medical professionals only for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of a doctor’s professional practice. It is a powerful and highly addictive drug and is increasingly abused because of its potency when crushed into a powder and ingested, leading to a heroin-like euphoria.

“More people die in America every year from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of all other drugs combined,” McQuade said. “In addition, prescription drug addiction has led to resurgence in heroin use. Physicians who divert prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to this epidemic, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them.”

All of the defendants charged in the indictment have been convicted by pleas and some have been sentenced already. Others are scheduled to be sentenced in the near future. Batayneh is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21.

The case was investigated by special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Resnick Cohen and Regina R. McCullough. They are assisted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Aouate of the Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit.