Ohio Physician Sentenced for Role in Illegal Opioid Distribution

On Monday, Ohio physician Morris Brown was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally distributing opioids, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Brown, who owned a medical practice in Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty Feb. 21, 2020, to one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances before Judge Walter Rice of the Southern District of Ohio. In his plea, Brown admitted to prescribing medications to patients “in amounts and for lengths of time that were outside the scope of legitimate medical practice,” according to the Feb. 21 release. Further, Brown confessed to continuing to prescribe the controlled substances to patients despite “red flags” telling him he should curb or change the prescriptions, as well as prescribing combinations of medications “known to heighten the risk of overdose and death,” the release said.

Specifically, according to Brown’s April 2019 indictment, he prescribed “large amounts” of controlled substances — such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl — to patients Brown “knew or had a reasonable cause to believe were drug addicts or diverting/selling the medication” and “rarely” advised patients about alternative treatment options. The indictment asserted that Brown kept pushing the prescriptions despite knowing “some of his patients had experienced overdoses, and in some cases, deaths.”

Indicted along with Brown were Ismail Abuhanieh, Mahmoud Elmiari, and Yohannes Tinsae, who all have been sentenced after pleading guilty, and Mahmoud Rifai, who still has an active arrest warrant against him related to the case. The four were charged in connection with operating Dayton Pharmacy, which had paid around $5,000 per month to Brown to operate in the same building as Brown’s physician practice, and obtaining the drug products from suppliers through “misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, and subterfuge,” according to the indictment.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, and Ohio Board of Pharmacy were involved in the investigation. Attorneys Chris Jason, Tom Tynan, and Leslie Garthwaive of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting.