Elderly US doctor and wife accused of distributing $77m worth of prescription drugs to black market

Rogelio Lucas and his wife were charged by the Drug Enforcement Administration

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The Independent US

An elderly New York doctor and his wife have been accused of distributing more than $77million worth of illegal prescriptions into the black market.

Rogelio and Lydia Lucas were arrested at their home on West 95th Street, in the wealthy neighbourhood of Upper West Side in New York, on Tuesday.

Dr Lucas, a licenced doctor since 1972, ran a family practise near his home in Manhattan until 2009, after which – prosecutors allege – his focus shifted to writing illegal prescriptions. It is understood that the couple deny any wrongdoing.

The Drug Enforcement Administration claim Dr Lucas, 77, wrote more than 23,600 illegal prescriptions for opioid painkiller oxydone since 2009. The DEA claim that the 3.1 million pills would have been worth roughly $77m on the black market.

Dr Lucas and his wife, 79, who acted as an office manager for her husband and is alleged to have taken hundreds in cash payments, have been charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and 37 drug counts.

READ MORE: Police mug shots show destructive effects of meth and oxycodone

More than $600,000 in cash was also allegedly discovered in the couples’ second home in Scarsdale, USA Today reported.

Authorities claim that Dr Lucas’s prescriptions were bought by members acting for drugs gangs and then resold on the streets of New York.

“Dr Lucas is charged with being one of the city’s most prolific illegal prescribers of the black market’s favourite pill - 30 mg oxycodone,” Bridget Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, told NBC.

“Instead of healing, doctors who routinely sign orders for unneeded narcotic drugs endanger the health and welfare of the public. Corrupt doctors who exchange prescriptions for cash have stoked the epidemic of addiction gripping our region.”

Neither Dr Lucas nor Mrs Lucas possesses a criminal record. Both reportedly pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on Thursday.