An Alexandria doctor accused of obtaining cash payments for writing prescriptions for narcotics pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone.
Dr. Larren Wade, 55, pleaded guilty to the sole charge before U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria. Hilton scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 17.
According to court records, Wade maintained a medical practice at 5194 Dawes Ave. A two-year investigation by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration into Wade’s activities began in 2010, when local law enforcement notified the FBI of a pill distribution network operating in the Lorton area. Significant portions of the pills were obtained through prescriptions written by Wade, according to the FBI.
Between early June and early July 2010, two undercover DEA officers visited Wade about four times and obtained prescriptions for approximately 2,300 oxycodone and Oxycontin tablets, which can be abused to obtain a heroin-like high. Wade prescribed the medications without conducting a physical evaluation, reviewing patient files or establishing a treatment plan, according to court documents.
According to the FBI, patients formed long lines outside Wade’s office and abused prescription drugs in the office parking lot.
Between January and July 2010, on average per month, Wade wrote approximately 1,000 prescriptions for controlled substances that were filled at pharmacies in Virginia, including 900,000 tablets of oxycodone, hydromorphone and methadone. Patients and undercover officers reported paying cash for their visits, and on one day in July 2010, patient sign-in counts obtained by investigators showed that more than 100 patients signed in that day and paid Wade nearly $10,000 in cash, according to court documents.
Starting in January 2010, the number of prescriptions Wade wrote per month was about 10 times more than his monthly average the preceding two years, prosecutors allege.
Since May 2010, law enforcement officers have interviewed at least 40 of Wade’s former patients and charged at least 12 of them in connected with the distribution of prescription drugs.