N.Y. radiologist charged with prescription fraud, distribution of controlled substances

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Police in Buffalo, N.Y., arrested Albert R. Cowie, MD, 36, early Wednesday morning on charges of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance by fraud and conspiracy to commit a drug felony, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York.

Cowie, of Amherst, N.Y., could face 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million if convicted. Investigators say the practicing radiologist orchestrated a prescription fraud scheme with the help of three accomplices in which he wrote 280 fraudulent prescriptions for Oxycodone, Percocet and Hydrocodone. His cohorts allegedly filled the prescriptions at local pharmacies, keeping their cut before returning the bulk of the medications to Cowie, who is accused of abusing the substances.

Prescriptions for Xanax and Percocet written by Cowie were also given to a local prostitute he met at an area strip club, according to authorities. “As the relationship continued, Cowie provided $200 a day to the prostitute to support a heroin addiction,” read a statement for the U.S. Attorney's Office. “The defendant allegedly also injected the prostitute with heroin on one occasion.”

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said in the statement that Cowie’s case is representative of a larger problem of prescription pain killer addiction in communities around New York and across the country. “Not only was Dr. Cowie abusing his power to write prescriptions for pain medication, he was abusing the prescription pills himself,” Hunt said in the release. “As a health care professional, Dr. Cowie should have known better, but this case proves that opiate addiction is a threat to everyone, to all socio and economic strata.”

Hunt commended the DEA Buffalo Resident Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York for their work on the investigation.