Judge compares pill mill doctors to street drug dealers, and not favorably

Federal judge J. Curtis Joyner sentenced South Philadelphia pill mill doctor Richard Minicozzi to seven years in prison on Tuesday, but he also had harsh words for the medical-school trained physicians who opt to make big money dispensing prescription pain medication without sufficient care.

Joyner referred to the "epidemic" of misuse of prescription pain medication and that doctors can’t “be dispensing them willy nilly without repercussions.”

Wednesday's Inquirer story on the sentencing is here.

Joyner said from the bench that Minicozzi did not have the concerns of the many street-level drug dealers who appear in his court, "who are just trying to survive," albeit illegally.

"You didn't need to do that," Joyner said. "You didn't grow up with a single mother or in a family with an addicted parent."

Still referring to Minicozzi, Joyner said, "He had all the good things to survive in our society."

Joyner mentioned the $1.5 million in cash that Minicozzi deposited in banks. Prosecutors suggested some of the cash was simply pocketed.

Besides a home in Elkins Park, the family has a beach house in Ocean City, though Minicozzi's attorney suggested that had been transferred to one of Minicozzi's daughter some years ago. When the transfer occurred might be a point of debate in future forfeiture discussions between the government and Minicozzi's family.

In court filings, prosecutors included records of Xanax and Vicodin orders that Minicozzi received from two local wholesalers, though neither company was accused of wrongdoing in this case. A link to Tuesday's Inquirer story on that aspect of the case is here.

Minicozzi was also accused of writing prescriptions for oxycodone for people he never examined.

"I hope this sends a message to people in medical practices," Joyner said. "There are steps that must be followed, there are procedures that must be followed."