Melville Man Behind $165M Drug Ring Gets 12 Years

By Andrew Wroblewski

The Melville man behind a Bronx-based operation that unlawfully distributed over $165 million worth of prescription painkiller oxycodone over a three-year period was sentenced by a federal judge to 12 years in prison on Monday.

“Kevin Lowe and his co-defendants used a network of bad doctors and street-level dealers to flood the streets of New York City with millions of highly addictive, potent opioids, all under the guise of a legitimate medical clinic,” Preet Bharara, Manhattan U.S. Attorney, stated in a release. Lowe’s medical clinic, Astramed, had several locations across New York City and one in Hempstead.

Bharara continued, “Instead of medical care, Lowe and others illegally dispensed opioids, enabling a vicious cycle of addiction that affects too many in our communities.”

Astramed has been shut down, Bharara added.

According to Bharara, between January 2011 and February 2014, Astramed doctors issued 34,925 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, amounting to nearly 5.5 million tablets. The drugs have a street value of $16 million, and Lowe, 55, collected more than $7 million in cash during this time period.

Following a two-week jury trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield, Lowe was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In addition, he was ordered to forfeit $2,338,661, adding to the $455,351 he previously forfeited at the time of his arrest, Bharara stated.

Twenty-three additional participants in the drug distribution ring – including doctors, clinic employees, and drug traffickers who oversaw crews of “patients” whom they sent into the clinics in order to obtain medically unnecessary prescriptions – have previously been sentenced by Judge Schofield pursuant to guilty pleas. Two defendants have pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced, and one defendant entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.