The mastermind of a Bronx-based illegal prescription drug operation was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday, eight months after he was convicted on charges claiming his outfit, which included a group of board-certified doctors, disseminated $550 million in painkillers.
Kevin Lowe, 54, of Melville, was sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield to 144 months for his role in running Astramed, a sham clinic that was a distribution point for more than 5 million oxycodone pills, prosecutors said. He had faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In May 2015, a jury convicted Lowe of conspiracy to distribute narcotics at the end of a two-week jury trial.
“Kevin Lowe and his co-defendants used a network of bad doctors and street-level dealers to flood the streets of New York City with millions of highly addictive, potent opioids, all under the guise of a legitimate medical clinic,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, said in a news release about the sentencing. “Instead of medical care, Lowe and others illegally dispensed opioids, enabling a vicious cycle of addiction that affects too many in our communities. Thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York City Police Department, this so-called ‘clinic’ is out of business and those responsible are been held accountable.”
Lowe’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
Astramed did not accept health insurance but received “pretend” patients who paid $300 for speedy doctor’s visits and “consistently” left the facility with prescriptions for large amounts of oxycodone, prosecutors said in court papers. Doctors in the operation were not paid unless they wrote prescriptions for the highly addictive painkiller, prosecutors said, claiming that the group wrote 35,000 prescriptions for 5.5 million pills. The operation worked with area pharmacies that filled the prescriptions and allowed the fake patients to collect large doses of oxycodone, typically 180 30-milligram tablets, or a daily dosage of six 30-milligram tablets, prosecutors said. Those pills were sold on the streets at vastly inflated prices.
The operation lasted for about three years, from January 2011 to February 2014 until law enforcement authorities raided the location on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx in February 2014, indicting 24 people, including physicians and staffers.
Lowe, who is the 24th defendant to be sentenced, was ordered to forfeit $2.3 million, Bharara’s office said. He has already turned over $455,351 in proceeds connected to the clinic and seized at the time of his arrest, Bharara said.