Dallas Doctor Gets 13 Years in Prison for Giving Fake Patients Opioids, Xanax Through Sham Clinics

A Dallas doctor has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for taking part in a scheme to prescribe nearly a million doses of painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs with no legitimate medical purpose.A jury convicted Carlos Luis Venegas, 62, of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in February. He was sentenced Monday.Authorities said Venegas acted as the supervising doctor for a number of "sham" medical clinics that were fronts for distributing the painkiller hydrocodone and the sedative alprazolam, also sold as Xanax.Witnesses testified that co-conspirators paid homeless people to pose as patients, coached them on how to describe their symptoms, drove them to the clinics and paid for the visits.Nurse practitioners and physician's assistants working under Venegas performed cursory exams, often without medical tests. Files from the clinics showed little documentation of the patients' illnesses.After the visits, Venegas would "almost always" prescribe multiple medications, including Xanax and hydrocodone, usually for the highest dosages possible, authorities said.Multiple co-defendants previously pleaded guilty in the scheme and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from a year and a half to more than 11 years. "These pill mills help to perpetuate the tragic opioid crisis gripping our country," U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a statement. "Last year, America lost, on average, 116 people per day to opioid overdoses. We cannot allow unscrupulous conduct by physicians to add to the supply of dangerous drugs on the streets."  Continue reading...

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