A businessman who operated pain clinics in the US states of Ohio and Michigan pleaded guilty Monday to a $150 million scheme to fraudulently distribute millions of doses of highly-addictive opioid medications.
Mashiyat Rashid, CEO of Tri-County Wellness Group, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and one count of money laundering, the US Justice Department said.
The 38-year-old allegedly fueled a lavish lifestyle of luxury clothes and exotic automobiles by creating a massive fraud scheme to illegally prescribe 4.2 million doses of opioid medications such as oxycodone to patients, including addicts.
The investigation was part of an initiative by President Donald Trump’s administration to crack down on medical professionals who unscrupulously distribute the dangerous drugs to addicted patients for profit.
Such proliferation of prescription drugs helps fuel a massive opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.
Last week, prosecutors unveiled charges against five New York doctors, a pharmacist and their associates.
“The Department of Justice has made ending the opioid crisis a top priority and taken historic new steps to stop the spread of addiction,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
“Today’s guilty plea helps us bring the defendant to justice and reduce the supply of illegal drugs flowing into our communities.”
Rashid agreed to forfeit more than $51 million, as well as properties prosecutors considered ill-gotten gains, such as various real estate holdings. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.
The CEO owned and operated numerous pain clinics, laboratories and other health care facilities.
Twelve others, including seven doctors, have also pleaded guilty in the case.
The US opioid epidemic has led to the first drop in life expectancy over two consecutive years since the early 1960s, American statisticians say.
In 2017, a record 71,568 people died from overdose deaths, far more than traffic accidents and gun-related deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The crisis is rooted in decades of overprescription of OxyContin and other addictive painkillers, leading to more than two million people becoming addicted.
In recent years, addicts have been forced to turn to heroin and the cheaper, far more potent fentanyl as authorities have cracked down on prescription painkiller sales.
So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire
In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial
Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.
Sharing footage of attorney Mike Purpura stating the higher-ups in Ukraine were unaware that Donald Trump was withholding aid until after the government helped him by announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the MSNBC host called the attorney out.
To make his point that Pupura was being untruthful, Williams then showed a clip of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians were asking about the delay on the day of the Trump phone call that was the starting point of the impeachment trial.
‘That dog doesn’t hunt’: Ex-senator burns down fake GOP outrage over Schiff’s ‘heads on pikes’ comment
Speaking to MSNBC's Brian Williams on Saturday, former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) had no patience for the GOP senators, including the so-called "moderates" Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), complaining about the closing comments by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) quoting an anonymous source to CBS News saying President Donald Trump and threatened senators would have their "head on a pike" if they voted to convict.
"Several Republican senators took umbrage," said Williams. "Collins is said to have reacted verbally in the chamber. Murkowski was hurt afterwards. Can they really pin a vote on injured feelings?"