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In SDNY Oxy Doctor Shown Gaming Urine Tests and MRIs Riding SubSys Speakers Program Gravy Train

By Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, February 20 – It is rare for a defendant to take the witness stand, but it happened on February 19, the day before summations, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Ernesto Lopez MD was a long time internist who made a lucrative switch to pain management such that, according to the prosecution, he filed an amendment tax return for 2015 with $750,000 in income. That also happened to be the amount of cash found in shoeboxes in his house, along with fentanyl patches, in a November 2017 raid. Now he is on trial, apparently trying to blame his co-defendant Audra Baker for running a side business, and clarifying for example the cash wasn't only in shoeboxes but other boxes as well. On February 20 the prosecution's summation hammered at Lopez as a drug dealer, emphasizing how he told a women to crush up oxy and put it in her urine so that, when tested, it would appear she was using and not "diverting" the opioid. They depicted Lopez prescribing the breakout cancer pain drug SubSys to people who never had cancer, to make more money through a speakers' program. MRIs were forged on Microsoft Word to justify more pain drugs, forgeries depicting spinal injuries so severe that if true, patient couldn't have walked. He didn't care, the prosecution said. Will the jury? Midday on February 20, after a hearing on Harvey Weinstein at the other end of the courthouse's 18th floor, the jury was out to lunch. Inner City Press will continue to cover the case. Here's from the prosecutors' old press release: "From 2015 until October 2017, LOPEZ operated medical clinics located in Manhattan,New York; Jackson Heights, New York; and Franklin Square, New York, where LOPEZ wrote thousands of prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone and fentanyl patches in exchange forcash payments. LOPEZ typically charged $200 to $300 in cash for “patient visits,” where LOPEZ performed no meaningful physical examination of patients. Instead, a typical “patient visit” consisted primarily of recording a patient’s vital signs and sometimes involved the brief movement of a patient’s limbs. LOPEZ then prescribed large quantities of oxycodone, most frequently 120 30-milligram tablets, and fentanyl patches. Between January 2015 and the present, LOPEZ wrotemore than 8,000 oxycodone prescriptions, resulting in an estimated $2 million in fees to LOPEZ." That's real money. The previous business day on February 15,when Gustavo Salvador pled guilty to selling oxycodone in The Bronx before SDNY Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, his two lawyers tried to argue for a suspended remand based on the cold in the MDC Brooklyn. Judge Engelmayer turned them down saying he had personal knowledge that the heat was back on; not surprising. Surprising, though, was that a Bronx oxy dealer was represented by the white shoe Goodwin Proctor law firm. Was it pro bono? Their representation goes back at least until Thanksgiving, before the MDC Brooklyn conditions became public. In the audience, a young child then a baby cried. The volume of oxy pills was in the thousands, according to the indictment. The sentencing guidelines run from 57 to 71 months. Judge Engelmayer said he said something else on his schedule coming up, should the sentencing be rescheduled? It went forward. Goodwin Proctor.


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