TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced that a medical doctor from Union County pleaded guilty today to illegally distributing the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone. He was arrested in January on charges he conspired with a drug dealer and others to distribute thousands of high-dose oxycodone pills by writing false prescriptions for individuals he never treated or examined.
Dr. Eugene Evans Jr., 56, of Roselle Park, pleaded guilty to second-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance before Superior Court Judge Ronald Lee Reisner in Monmouth County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Evans be sentenced to five years in state prison. He has surrendered his license to practice medicine. Reisner scheduled sentencing for Evans for June 26.
Evans was charged in an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration New Jersey Field Division Tactical Diversion Squad and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team. The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad is made up of special agents of the DEA, task force officers from local police departments, and diversion investigators. Evans was arrested on Jan. 20 at a hospital in Canandaigua, N.Y., by special agents of the DEA.
A second defendant in the case, Harold Nyhus, 53, of Freehold, pleaded guilty today before Reisner to a charge of third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud. He admitted that he filled fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone at a pharmacy that Evans issued in his name and a second individual’s name. The state will recommend that Nyhus be sentenced to three years in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony Torntore is prosecuting the defendants for the Division of Criminal Justice. He is a member of the Specialized Crimes Bureau assigned to the Attorney General’s Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team, a newly formed team of detectives and attorneys in the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau that targets corrupt healthcare professionals and “pill mills.”
“Evans betrayed his profession and every standard of decency by cashing in on the deadly epidemic of opiate abuse in New Jersey,” said Hoffman. “Heartless profiteers like Evans who divert these highly addictive pain pills are directly fueling the rise in heroin use, which drug users turn to as a cheaper alternative. Evans is the first doctor we are sending to prison through our new Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team, but he certainly will not be the last.”
“We will continue to partner with the DEA to target this multi-million dollar black-market industry, which thrives in the shadows of the healthcare professions,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge any member of the public to contact us confidentially if they have information about a doctor, pharmacist or other licensed professional diverting prescription narcotics.”
Carl Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division said, “Unfortunately, this is another example of a doctor allegedly choosing easy money over the oath he took to help those in need. DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue these violators as vigorously as we pursue all drug traffickers.”
The investigation revealed that Evans issued prescriptions for thousands of 30 milligram tablets of oxycodone in the names of individuals he never examined, treated or even met. There was no legitimate medical purpose for the prescriptions. Evans allegedly provided the prescriptions to David Roth, 43, of Morganville, N.J., who supplied Evans with the names and dates of birth of the purported patients. Roth was arrested on Dec. 3 and faces pending charges of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, and third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud. It is alleged that Roth illegally distributed the pills, typically selling each 30 milligram oxycodone tablet for $20 or $30.
Roth allegedly recruited individuals into the scheme who agreed to have prescriptions issued in their names. Evans allegedly wrote multiple prescriptions at a time for each of the purported patients, post-dating the prescriptions at monthly intervals. Once Roth obtained a prescription, he went to a pharmacy with the person named in the prescription to have it filled.
On one or more occasions, Roth obtained prescriptions for other drugs from Evans, including the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. It is alleged that Roth paid Evans for writing the prescriptions. Roth also allegedly paid the individuals he recruited as purported patients, either in cash, prescription narcotics, or both.
The investigation, which included a review of records in the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring System, determined that between January 2012 and March 2014, Evans allegedly issued fraudulent prescriptions in the names of over a dozen individuals for more than 20,000 high-dose 30 milligram tablets of oxycodone.
Hoffman and Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tip line 866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report crimes. Additionally, the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web page at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the tip line or webpage will remain confidential.