Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Calling him a "kingpin" who was motivated by "unbridled and amoral greed," federal prosecutors have asked for a life sentence for pill mill doctor William O'Brien who is to be sentenced tomorrow before U.S. District Court Judge Nitza Quinones.
O'Brien was convicted in June of running a multi-million dollar pill mill operation with members of the Pagans outlaw motorcycle gang. Among other things, he was also charged with sometimes foregoing the fee he would charge for writing a script in exchange for oral sex from female "patients."
"The depth and breadth of his criminality was astounding," Assistant U.S. Attorneys M. Beth Leahy and David Troyer wrote in a 28-page sentencing memo. O'Brien, who had medical offices in Philadelphia, Levittown and Bristol, represented himself during a six-week trial before Quinones that ended with his conviction on 123 of the 127 counts he faced, including causing the death of a patient by prescribing a lethal combination of drugs.
O'Brien has steadfastly denied the charges and claimed during the trial that he had been targeted for prosecution by unscrupulous investigators and prosecutors.
In the memo today, those prosecutors wrote that he had forsaken "his duty as a physician to satisfy his greed."
Calling him nothing less than a kingpin, the prosecutors wrote that "the defendant should not be underestimated because of his innocuous appearance and advanced level of education. He is a dangerous criminal with a propensity for violence."
O'Brien, 53, was convicted of conspiring with members of the Pagans outlaw motorcycle gang to set up a pill mill operation that generated millions in cash and that poured thousands of doses of oxycodone, methadone, Xanax and Percocet on the streets.
Authorities alleged that O'Brien pocked $1.8 million during a three-year period when the scheme was operational. They also contend that members of the Pagans were generating $10,00-a-week from the illegal street sale of the drugs obtained through prescriptions O'Brien wrote for dozens of "patients" sent to him by the bikers or their associates.
O'Brien was also convicted of money-laundering and lying in a bankruptcy proceeding. Authorities allege that O'Brien hid his wealth by claiming to be financially bankrupt. In fact, they said, he had tens of thousands of dollars stashed in his residence and in bank accounts controlled by his girlfriend.
More than a dozen co-defendants pleaded guilty in the case rather than go to trial, including two members of the Pagans who were described as "enforcers" for O'Brien. Authorities are continuing to investigate the murder of Anthony Rongione, a patient who owed O'Brien money and who, authorities said, was targeted on his orders by members of the Pagans.
George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net