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Healthcare Fraud

‘Operation Wasted Daze’ Results in 20-Year Prison Sentence for Local Oncologist

The nine-year, $18 million scheme resulted in the fraudulent distribution of millions of doses of controlled substances.

Oncologist Dr. Caesar Mark Capistrano has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for running an $18 million pill mill scheme in North Texas. He was previously arrested and charged for involvement in the operation, which the DEA labeled “Operation Wasted Daze.”

Capistrano was found guilty in January on three counts of conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The trials revealed that Capistrano and his colleague Dr. Tameka Lachelle Noel prescribed hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other drugs, knowing they would be sold illegally on the streets.  

“Doctors who run pill mills knowingly profit off of vulnerable people’s addictions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah via release. “The Justice Department is determined to prosecute doctors who funnel powerful prescription drugs onto our streets. We will do everything within our power to curb the opioid epidemic.”

Capistrano, Noel, and clinic manager Shirley Ann Williams used recruiters to find individuals in the community and homeless shelters who then pretended to be patients for a $50–200 fee. These individuals would obtain a prescription from Noel and Capistrano without being seen by a physician, and the recruiters would fill the prescription at complicit pharmacies. The drugs would then be sold on the streets at a profit. Pharmacists also charged the recruiters supplying hundreds of prescriptions $200–$800 per prescription. The physicians involved would throw in non-controlled substance prescriptions to appear legitimate. 

The scheme lasted nine years, and the physicians often prescribed multiple prescriptions at the same time at the highest doses available. Capistrano issued prescriptions for more than 524,000 doses of hydrocodone, 430,000 doses of carisoprodol, 77,000 doses of alprazolam, and 2.07 million doses of promethazine with codeine. Noel was responsible for more than 200,000 doses of hydrocodone, 55,000 doses of carisoprodol, 14,000 doses of alprazolam, and 450,000 doses of promethazine with codeine.

Capistrano owned R.G. Medical, a family medicine clinic in Fort Worth, and Lancaster Oncology in Lancaster. The investigation focused on 49 conspirators. Noel is a Duke Medical School graduate who did her anesthesiology residency at U.T. Southwestern, a fellowship at Cleveland Clinic, and has been in Texas for five years. Capistrano is an oncologist who went to medical school in the Philippines, did his residency in Buffalo, and a fellowship at Brown University. According to the Texas Medical Board, he had privileges at Medical City Dallas and had been practicing in Texas for 22 years. 

The release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office details many involved in the scheme:

  • Caesar Mark Capistrano, medical doctor, was convicted at trial on Jan. 28, 2021 of three counts of conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
  • Tameka Lachelle Noel, medical doctor, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2020 to conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
  • Ngozika Tracey Njoku, nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2020 to conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

Clinic staff convicted in the scheme include:

  • Shirley Ann Williams, clinic office manager, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2020 to conspiracy to disperse a controlled substance and was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
  • Latonya Ann Tucker, office staff, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2020 to  conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Pharmacists convicted in the scheme include:

  • Wilkinson Oloyede Thomas of Calvary Pharmacy, who was convicted at trial on Jan. 28, 2021 of three counts of conspiracy to dispense controlled substances and one count of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
  • Christopher Kalejaiye Ajayi of Remcare Pharmacy, who was convicted at trial on Mar. 2, 2021 of three counts of conspiracy to dispense controlled substances and two counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
  • Bartholomew Anny Akubukwe of Beco Pharmacy, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2020 to conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.
  • Nedal Helmi Naser of Brandy Pharmacy, who pleaded guilty on Mar. 16,  2021 to conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance.
  • Ethel Oyekunle-Bubu of Ethel’s Pharmacy, who was convicted at trial on Jan. 28, 2021 of three counts of conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance and two counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Recruiters convicted in the scheme include:

  • Ritchie Dale Milligan, Jr, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2020 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
  • Wayne Benard Kincade, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2020 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
  • Katie Lorane Parker, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2020 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
  • Cynthia Denise Cooks, who pleaded guilty on Nov. 25, 2020 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

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