Louisiana 'Pill Mill' Physician Receives 8-Year Prison Term

April 28, 2015

Joseph Mogan III, MD, was sentenced to roughly 8 years in prison last month for operating two pill-mills in suburban New Orleans, Louisiana, that manufactured illegal prescriptions for narcotics and other controlled substances on a cash-and-carry basis.

The sentence might have been longer, however, if Dr Mogan had not agreed to testify against former New Orleans police officer Donald Nides, who, according to federal prosecutors, taught the 48-year-old physician and an accomplice how to operate a criminal medical practice under the radar of law enforcement.

Do not allow drug seekers to attract attention to a clinic by coming early and congregating on the sidewalk, prosecutors quoted Nides as saying. So Dr Mogan limited the number of patients in his waiting room and instructed other patients to sit in their parked cars. Nides also told Dr Mogan to occasionally vary the quantity and brand names of the narcotics he prescribed lest a pattern stand out during a review by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which had deputized him at one time. And do not charge more for an office visit when prescribing a schedule II narcotic — another tip-off.

Prosecutors said Nides was willing to offer this advice as well as warnings about Drug Enforcement Administration moves against Dr Mogan because Nides was receiving sexual favors and thousands of dollars in cash from Tiffany Miller, a co-operator of the two clinics. Nides' coaching may explain why the clinics were able to operate as long as they did, from 2003 through September 2013, when they were busted.

Similar to Dr Mogan, Miller eventually cooperated in the criminal investigation after she was indicted and agreed to testify against Nides, an active-duty officer in the New Orleans Police Department until 2008 and a reserve officer until 2013. Dr Mogan and Miller both pleaded guilty in the case just days before their trial was set to begin in November 2014.

Nides pleaded not guilty to the charges against him but never took the witness stand to defend himself: He was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot on November 5, 3 days into his trial.

At his sentencing on March 18, Dr Mogan told US District Judge Susie Morgan that he was "extremely remorseful and saddened by my actions," according to the New Orleans Advocate newspaper." He asked Morgan to let him return to medicine and serve the community "before I start to lose my skills."

The judge did not oblige.

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