Two Dozen Charged In Massive Pill Mill Scheme

By Shawn Dwyer 02/06/14

An innocuous New York clinic served as a front for one of the biggest oxycodone distributors in the northeastern U.S.

People line up outside Astramed in the Bronx.
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Twenty five people, including a number of doctors, were charged with running a giant drug operation that authorities described as "one of the largest pill mills in the northeast."

Astramed, a Bronx-based primary care clinic, was the site of a massive drug front that flooded New York streets with some $550 million in illicit painkillers. For three years, the clinic sold 31,500 phony prescriptions to drug dealers, who then used them to purchase roughly 5.5 million oxycodone pills in and around New York.

"This is poison by prescription, and the volume and money allegedly involved would make hardened illegal drug traffickers envious," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The world of prescription drug trafficking is looking more and more like the world of old-school trafficking in narcotics like heroin, cocaine and crack.”

The clinic became so popular that crowds of 100 people would gather on the streets looking to score an easy prescription, which required Astramed to hire private security to manage the crowds.

Twenty-four defendants  were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, according to the federal indictment. One of the clinic's serial offenders, Dr. Robert Terdiman, was charged separately for conspiracy and criminal narcotics sales after he allegedly wrote eight oxycodone prescriptions to undercover officers.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.