May 13, 2017 News
Noel Blackman, who practiced as a medical doctor and was the former Health Minister of Guyana and Executive Member of the World Health Organization, was yesterday sentenced to 50 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release.
Blackman had been accused of illegally distributing oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription painkiller. He had been facing up to 71 months, but his defence counsel had pleaded for a lower sentencing.
Additionally, United States District Judge Joanna Seybert ordered Blackman, 69, to forfeit US$536,200 in illegal proceeds, according to the US Department of Justice.
The sentence followed the defendant’s guilty plea on August 24, 2016.
The sentence was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.
Between 2015 and 2016, Blackman prescribed more than 365,000 30-milligram oxycodone pills from “pain management” clinics that he worked out of in Elmhurst, Queens, Franklin Square, Long Island and Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. He was listed as from Valley Stream, New York.
During his guilty plea allocution before Judge Seybert last August, Blackman admitted that, in exchange for US$300 cash payments, he wrote oxycodone prescriptions for 1,920 30 milligram oxycodone pills to persons whom he knew had no legitimate medical need for that highly-addictive drug.
As described in court papers, that amount of oxycodone was worth up to US$57,600 on the street.
According to court filings, on February 7, 2016, HSI agents removed Blackman from a plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to Guyana and arrested him in connection with the illegal distribution of oxycodone. He was returning to Guyana to take up his position as Chairman of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
The Government of Guyana was forced to name another doctor, Dr. Carl ‘Max’ Hanoman as the new Chairman.
At the time of his arrest, more than US$30,000 was found concealed in Blackman’s luggage. Following his arrest, Blackman admitted that he believed that some of his patients were addicted to oxycodone.
Blackman has forefeited his medical licence and will no longer be allowed to practice medicine in the United States.
“Today’s sentence should send a clear message to other doctors and medical professionals that when they abandon their oaths and act as drug dealers, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.
“Blackman violated his professional oath to put his patients’ legitimate medical needs first, and instead chose to line his pockets with the proceeds of sales from oxycodone, which has ravaged communities in New York City and on Long Island. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to vigorously prosecute illegal prescription drug distribution.”
Rohde thanked the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad, comprising agents and officers from the DEA, Nassau County Police Department, Rockville Centre Police Department, Suffolk County Police Department, Port Washington Police Department and Internal Revenue Service, for its participation and assistance in the investigation.
“Prescribing ‘oxys’ in exchange for cash is no different than a street dealer’s hand to hand drug transaction; both are illegal and fuel drug misuse in our communities. Today’s sentencing is a result of law enforcement’s collaborative work,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt.
“Blackman prescribed highly addictive pills to people who had no legitimate need. To add to his crime, he knowingly handed out prescriptions for oxycodone to individuals he knew were already addicted,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.
“Blackman’s actions make him no different than the street-corner drug pusher. Today’s sentencing should stand as a reminder to others that we will continue our joint law enforcement efforts to ensure that crooked doctors like Blackman can no longer put pen to pad and cause more harm.”
The government’s case was being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal and Civil Divisions. Assistant United States Attorneys Bradley T. King and Madeline O’Connor are in charge of the prosecution.
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