Defendants Allegedly Distributed More Than 11,000 Oxycodone Pills for a Total Value of More Than $735,000
ALEXANDRIA, VA—An Arlington, Virginia doctor and five co-conspirators were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday for operating an oxycodone distribution ring in which the participants allegedly wrote, filled, and sold fraudulent prescriptions for over 11,000 oxycodone pills and other controlled substances throughout Virginia and in other states.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Timothy A. Gallagher, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
The six indicted defendants reside in Virginia and include Dr. Derron McRae Simon, 45, of Midlothian; Donald Alvin Petties, 51, of Sterling; Ereida Arlett Escobar, 23, of Falls Church; Linda Dao, 21, of Arlington; Michael Harris, 21, of Falls Church; and Aaron Kwon, 29, of Manassas. All six defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances and one or more counts of possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances. Simon also is charged with three counts of distributing a controlled substance to persons under the age of 21, and both Simon and Petties are charged with one count of aggravated identity fraud.
According to the nine-count indictment, from January 2013 until around July 2014, Simon was the chief medical director, and often the primary or only medical doctor, at WithinMe MD, a wellness practice in Arlington. From November 2008 until July 2014, Simon’s medical license was restricted by the Virginia Board of Medicine after having either been suspended or placed on probation. Simon’s license was summarily suspended on July 11, 2014.
According to court records, beginning in February 2013, Simon and the other five defendants conspired to distribute oxycodone throughout Virginia and other states. Simon allegedly wrote and sold hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, despite knowing that the individuals in whose names the prescriptions were written were abusing, misusing, distributing, and/or selling the drugs. Simon allegedly had never met many of these purported patients, and he also wrote prescriptions in the names of his five co-conspirators, as well as friends, relatives, and fictitious individuals.
According to the indictment, Simon directed Escobar, a receptionist and medical assistant at Simon’s practice, to confirm calls from pharmacists seeking to verify his oxycodone prescriptions. Simon also allegedly directed Escobar to create fraudulent patient history forms and medical records to make it appear that these individuals were actually legitimate patients. Around May 2013, Simon purchased a pill press so that he and Petties allegedly could make homemade oxycodone tablets without having to go through pharmacies.
The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to distribute well over 11,000 oxycodone 30 mg pills, for a total value of over $735,000. For each fraudulent prescription, Simon and/or Escobar received approximately $500 to $1,000.
Each of the defendants faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted of the charged conspiracy or possession offenses. Additionally, Simon faces a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison if convicted of distributing oxycodone to a person under the age of 21. Simon and Petties also face a mandatory two-year consecutive term in prison if convicted of aggravated identity fraud.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Scheff and Allison Ickovic are prosecuting the case.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.