Philadelphia doctor, receptionist charged in 'pill mill' operation

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A local doctor and his receptionist are accused of selling prescription drugs out of the office.

A Philadelphia doctor and his receptionist have been charged with running a "pill mill" out of his offices, United States Attorney Zane David Memeger announced Thursday.

49-year-old William J. O'Brien III and 29-year-old Angela Rongione are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

O'Brien, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, is also charged with 26 counts of illegally distributing oxycodone and Xanax outside the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose.

O'Brien practiced out of offices located on the 9800 block of Bustleton Avenue in Philadelphia and on the unit block of Rolling Lane in Levittown, Bucks County.

According to the indictment, between January 2014 and December 2014, O'Brien's so-called patients could obtain prescriptions for addictive and dangerous controlled substances for a fee and without a physical examination or any other medical care or treatment.

O'Brien typically charged customers $250 cash for the first appointment to buy prescriptions and $200 for each appointment to obtain refills.

O'Brien allegedly falsified medical records to make it look as though customers had received physical examinations and medical treatment from him when they had not.

It is further alleged that O'Brien was willing to exchange sexual favors for higher doses of narcotics.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says O'Brien made such an offer to a female undercover FBI agent.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Leahy explains, "During that encounter, she posed as a prescription drug seeker. O'Brien told her that he would give her an increased quantity of prescription and a type of prescription if she would perform oral sex on him."

If convicted, O'Brien faces 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and five years for each of the distribution counts and substantial fines and criminal forfeiture.

Rongione faces 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge.

The federal government believes O'Brien took in close to $1.8 million in a single year running this cash-only operation. Yet on Thursday he told the judge he doesn't have money for an attorney.

The judge said she had a hard time believing that. He's being held behind bars until another hearing on Tuesday.

Rongione will be released on her own recognizance.
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