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What does it mean to be charged as a co-conspirator?

A ring of co-conspirators were busted last week after running a drug ring that was worth $550 million. One of the doctors involved, Dr. Robert Terdiman, was responsible for writing 18,700 prescriptions worth $90 million alone. The main conspirator, Dr. Kevin Lowe, pocketed approximately $12 million over the past three years, while barely getting his hands dirty.

Dr. Kevin Lowe graduated from the NYU School of Medicine in 1971, and shortly thereafter did his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital and Harlem Hospital. With such a great starting point to his medical profession, Dr. Lowe had set the bar high for the remainder of his career. Many observers would not have suspected that his "high" goals literally meant getting people high.

Dr. Lowe owned a pair of Bronx pain management clinics that consistently had crowds of people waiting outside each day. It was these crowds of people that led the Bronx residents to complain; that complaint led to the bust of one of the most violent and lucrative drug operations. Dr. Lowe was busted, along with two dozen co-conspirators, for running a $550 million oxycodone ring. Dr. Lowe had personally pocketed approximately $12 million over the past three years, before investigators shut down the operation.

The scheme behind this operation involved numerous doctors operating under the control of Lowe. Lowe supervised the two offices both in person or via surveillance cameras and hired body guards to control the crowds outside the offices, as well as to ensure the silence of all involved. Each weekday morning, approximately 100 "patients" would gather outside the two offices. These patients would be willing to pay the doctors between $200 and $300 to get the prescriptions; the oxycodone pills sell for up to $40 a pop. After the patients obtained these prescriptions, the paperwork was passed to "high-level drug traffickers," who would peddle the pills. Obviously, these patients were not legitimate and no physical examinations were conducted. Officials have identified approximately 10 separate drug crews that were getting the product from these two offices.

The members of this conspiracy are charged with distributing 31,500 fake oxycodone prescriptions. The scheme pushed an estimated 5.5 million pills onto the streets. Lowe and 20 other members of the conspiracy were arrested last week. All of the defendants face up to 20 years in prison. Lowe pleaded not guilty and a judge set bail at $5 million. Seven other suspects were held without bail and the 14 other were granted in bail from $100-$200,000.

Source: NY Daily News, Bronx-based drug ring dispensed nearly $550M worth of oxycodone pills: feds, Daniel Beekman, Jennifer H. Cunningham, Larry McShane, 2/6/14

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