Sunday, April 18, 2021

Former Insys executives sentenced to 2 years in prison for roles in opioid bribery scheme


Two ex-Insys Therapeutics bosses accepted their racketeering sentences in very different ways Tuesday, as a top sales director pledged to immediately appeal his ruling while a regional manager fought back tears in apologizing for his role in the fentanyl spray bribery scheme.

Joseph Rowan, a former district manager, repeatedly apologized through many sniffles in U.S. District Court before federal Judge Allison Burroughs gave him 27 months in prison and ordered  $2,978,217 in forfeiture for organizing bribes to doctors.

Seven former Insys employees were convicted last year of racketeering conspiracy, among other charges, for the scheme to pay doctors through sham speaking engagements to prescribe Subsys, the cancer-treating fentanyl spray.

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Prosecutors said Rowan willingly participated in the scheme to mislead insurers regarding patients’ history of cancer in order to get paid by those insurers, and allegedly obstructed the federal investigation into the scam by throwing his phone off a mountain to get rid of information.

“His crime may not have been motivated by a lust for money, but it was at some level motivated by money,” Burroughs said, after characterizing Rowan as a decent man corrupted by greed.

Rowan after the hearing embraced Sunrise Lee, a co-conspirator at Insys who allegedly once gave a lap dance to a doctor Insys wanted to write more prescriptions. Lee is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.

Richard Simon, who oversaw Rowan and Lee at Insys, was instructed not to talk at his hearing by his attorney, William Fick, before Burroughs read aloud his sentence and $2,338,078 forfeiture.

Prosecutors said Simon was “incredibly aggressive” in carrying out the scheme, including approving 50 sham speaking programs in 2013 to a doctor who lost his ability to prescribe Schedule II drugs.

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Fick said it was his legal team’s judgement that Simon not to talk because of the “posture” of the case and the possibility of a new trial after an appeal.

Both men got sentenced above their own suggestions of a year or less in prison, but at about a third of the length prosecutors wanted, over approximately 10 years in prison each. Restitution amounts will be determined at a later date, Burroughs and attorneys agreed.

Both men and their attorneys did not speak as they left the courthouse.

Lee and former Insys CEO will be sentenced in separate hearings by Burroughs Wednesday.


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