RALEIGH — A doctor who had a medical practice in Pembroke has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for illegally distributing opioids, according to a United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Chief U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III on Monday announced the sentence for 51-year-old Donovan Dave Dixon, of Fayetteville, Robert J. Higdon Jr. said in a news release. After Dixon leaves prison, he will be on three years of supervised release.
Dixon, a licensed medical doctor at the time of the crimes, was convicted after a four-day trial in April of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute oxycodone and 20 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
According to the press release from Higdon, evidence showed that Dixon operated a family medical practice at 812 Candy Park Road in Pembroke from 2012 until April 6, 2015, when his ability to prescribe controlled substances was limited by the North Carolina Medical Board. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad in Charlotte began investigating Dixon after it noticed that four of the top 10 oxycodone prescribing pharmacies in North Carolina were located in the Lumberton area.
Local pharmacists, and local and state law enforcement identified Dixon as the likely cause, according to the news release.
Evidence presented during the trial showed that Dixon prescribed high-strength, high-dosage amounts of oxycodone with little or no medical examination, according to the release. Multiple witnesses testified that they had never met Dixon despite the fact that hundreds of prescriptions had been issued in their names. A local drug dealer testified that Dixon wrote prescriptions for oxycodone in the name of people that he provided to Dixon in exchange for cash. The prescription drugs were then sold on the streets of Robeson County by the drug dealer.
Dixon graduated from Rush Medical College in 1998 and completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, N.J., in 2001, according to a website for his medical family practice.
Four years later, Dixon completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at New York Methodist Hospital, followed by serving in 2007 as part of the faculty training future physicians and medics for the United States Army.
“The United States Department of Justice is aggressively moving against all individuals who illegally distribute opioids and prescription drugs,” Higdon said. “Whether those illegally pushing these drugs are on the street or operating from a doctor’s office, we will pursue you, charge you and convict you for the crimes that are putting our citizens at risk.”
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad. Assistance was provided by the State Bureau of Investigation, Diversion and Environmental Crime Unit; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office; the Fayetteville Police Department; and the North Carolina Medical Board.
Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence J. Cameron prosecuted the case.