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Drug distributor executive accused of ‘greed’ in opioid trial – Metro US

Drug distributor executive accused of ‘greed’ in opioid trial

FILE PHOTO: Laurence Doud III, former CEO of Rochester Drug
FILE PHOTO: Laurence Doud III, former CEO of Rochester Drug Co-Operative, exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York

(Reuters) – Prosecutors on Tuesday urged a jury to convict Rochester Drug Co-operative Inc (RDC) Chief Executive Laurence Doud, saying that he funneled addictive opioids to “bad pharmacies” and street-level drug dealers out of “greed.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Burnett said during opening statements in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday that Doud directed employees to continue selling oxycodone and fentanyl to pharmacies and doctors despite “clear signs” that the drugs were being sold to street dealers and opioid addicts.

“The defendant corrupted his company,” Burnett said. “He knew the rules, and he also knew the dangers involved in selling opioids.”

Doud, 78, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to distribute illegal narcotics and conspiring to defraud the United States.

The case marks the first time prosecutors have criminally charged a drug distributor and company executives with drug trafficking opioids.

RDC, which filed for bankruptcy in 2020, agreed in 2019 to pay $20 million to settle criminal and civil charges related to its opioid sales.

Over 100,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses during the 12-month period ending April 2021, according to a November report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doud’s attorney, Derrelle Janey, told the jury on Tuesday that the charges against his client were false, and that Doud had always responded appropriately to signals that drugs were being diverted for nonmedical use.

RDC’s oversight of opioid sales may not have been “perfect,” but it was not a “sham or a front for peddling illegal drugs,” Janey said.

“The accusation that Larry Doud is a drug dealer is absurd,” Janey said.

RDC chief compliance officer William Pietruszewski pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and other charges. He is expected to testify against Doud during the trial.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels told the jury that he expects the trial to last up to three weeks.

(Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Berkrot)

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