Doctor Albert Cowie, a board-certified radiologist from Amherst, was supposed to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Buffalo for illegally prescribing narcotics. However, at the last minute, the sentencing was adjourned until a future date.
Last year, Dr. Cowie pleaded guilty to obtaining controlled substances by fraud and health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, between January 2010 and March 2014, Dr. Cowie wrote more than 200 illegal prescriptions for controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. The prescriptions were given to an individual who went to local pharmacies and had the prescriptions filled. The individual kept some of the controlled substances for personal use and gave the rest to Dr. Cowie for his own use.
Prosecutors said Dr. Cowie encouraged a confidential witness to lie to insurance investigators about the alleged prescription fraud.
Dr. Cowie is also accused of being connected to a prostitute with a $200/day heroin addiction. "Dr. Cowie was, in effect, feeding that addiction," said the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The doctor had previously worked for Diagnostic Imaging Associates in Williamsville.
The plea came as a result of investigations by the DEA, FBI, NYS Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and Amherst Police. Law enforcement said Univera Health Care and HealthNow New York were fraudulently billed $20,482.83.
Prescription painkillers have become the center of a community crisis as many blame the medical community for over-prescribing opioid painkillers. People addicted to opioids can turn to heroin which is cheaper than illegal pain pills.
Several other doctors have also been investigated for illegally prescribing controlled medications including Dr. Pravin Mehta from Niagara Falls, Dr. Matthew Bennett from North Tonawanda, Dr. Daniel Gillick from Youngstown and Dr. Eugene Gosy from Williamsville.
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