Berks County woman sentenced to state prison for role in illegally prescribing prescription drugs

March 20, 2017 | Topic: Opioids

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a Berks County woman has been sentenced to 6 to 18 years in state prison for being an accomplice to a doctor who came to be known as the “Candyman” because he illegally prescribed thousands of prescription drugs through his mental health offices.

The prison term imposed Thursday for Rameeza Chowdhury, 56, the former office manager to Mohammed Abdul Rahman Khan, will also be followed by five years of probation. Chowdhury was recently found guilty of various crimes following a bench trial in Berks County.

“We’re fighting drug abuse on every front, from opioids to fraudulent prescriptions, and this verdict shows you can’t get away with illegally prescribing thousands of pills and fueling an epidemic for your own profit without facing justice,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Pennsylvanians were put at risk and as Attorney General I will continue to crack down on anyone who illegally distributes prescription drugs.”

An investigation conducted by the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Berks County detectives determined that Khan wrote more than 3,100 prescriptions for more than 145,000 pills that were not medically necessary. Investigators developed information that Khan routinely wrote prescriptions without performing medical examinations, knowing at least one patient filled the prescriptions to sell the drugs on the street. With practices in Reading and Pottsville, Khan wrote prescriptions for pills so recklessly that he earned the “Candyman” nickname.

Investigators confirmed that Chowdhury instructed therapists to overbill Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies for the amount of times they spent in therapy. She also directed them to falsify dates of medical services to comply with legal regulations. To increase business and profits, Chowdhury also started accepting walk-in patients who paid with cash, investigators learned.

Chowdhury even instructed a therapist to lie to investigators about the office’s billing practices.

Chowdhury, of Wyomissing, was found guilty of two counts of corrupt organizations, three counts of unlawful administration, dispensing or delivery of Adderall, Xanax and Ritalin by a practitioner and one count each of criminal conspiracy, insurance fraud, perjury and hindering apprehension.

She was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Christie Bonesch of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.

Khan, 46, earlier pled guilty and was sentenced to state prison on charges of unlawful prescription of controlled substances by a practitioner, insurance fraud and criminal conspiracy.

“This was a complex case, and thanks to our career investigators and prosecutors a pill mill was shut down and the people profiting from peddling illegal prescriptions will serve time,” Shapiro said in commending the people who worked on this case.

# # #