Washington, D.C./ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 13, 2024
D.C. Doctor Charged in Massive Opioid Scheme Spanning 37 StatesSource: Wikipedia/Blogtrepreneur, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Upper Marlboro doc in hot water, Dr. Ndubuisi Joseph Okafor, 64, is facing a total of 29 felony charges after being accused of running a narcotic prescription cash-for-pills scheme out of his Washington, D.C. medical practice, authorities said. The U.S. Attorney's Office reported that Okafor was slinging scripts for opioids like oxycodone and promethazine with codeine to people without any legitimate medical need, peddling pills in an operation that spanned 37 states.

Okafor had originally been snagged with charges for controlled substance distribution last March, but the game got a whole lot bigger yesterday, when a superseding indictment slapped on 28 additional counts, including a charge of conspiracy and maintaining a drug involved premises with accusers saying he knew full well that the prescriptions written for phony names and addresses were for drug abusers or traffickers, some co-conspirators would travel from the capital out to as far as California, Florida, and Maine to fill these prescriptions that he exchanged for cold-hard cash.

The announcement came down from big names including U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and folks at the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, and the DEA, putting Okafor's alleged illicit activities in the limelight. The feds had already yanked his DEA registration, citing a clear and present danger to public health and safety given the sheer amount of opioids he was accused of improperly doling out.

With each of the 29 counts carrying a potential 20-year max in the slammer, Okafor could be looking at spending a considerable stretch behind bars if convicted on all charges the investigation is a joint effort involving the FBI's Washington Field Office, the HHS Office of Inspector General and DC's own Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with plenty of assists coming in from the DEA's Washington Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Mayer-Dempsey along with Trial Attorney Kathryn Furtado from the Justice Department’s Fraud Section are spearheading the prosecution. As Okafor awaits his fate, the case serves as another bleak reminder of the opioid crisis' grip on the nation—and those trusted to heal instead choosing to harm.