Painkiller pusher is handed 28-year prison term

September 19, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

If Phillip Charles Brown hoped to gain sympathy from his federal jury and the judge by faking a heart attack and other medical problems, the strategy failed.

Brown, 61, of the 3600 block of W. Lexington St., was convicted in June by the jury for conspiring to distribute 14,000 tablets of the powerful painkiller Dilaudid and for related charges. Yesterday, the judge sentenced him to 28 years in prison and three months' probation.

An associate, Isaac Baylis, 40, of the 800 block of Bethune Road, was sentenced to 15 1/2 years. Four co-defendants will be tried Oct. 5.

Brown clutched his throat during his trial and collapsed. He also has shown up in court wearing a neck brace and leaning on a walker.

But there was no medical need for the brace or walker, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine S. Manuelian said yesterday. She said a physical examination revealed no problems other than high blood pressure.

Ms. Manuelian said Brown faked a heart attack when he was arrested in July 1991.

She said he also faked a diabeticattack during a court hearing in April and faked another heart attack on June 23, one day before the federal jury convicted him.

Brown supervised a group of people who obtained Dilaudid from pharmacies in Maryland, Virginia and Washington and sold the drug on the streets of Washington for $35 to $40 a tablet.

The drug is prescribed for terminally ill patients, but addicts sometimes use it as a heroin substitute.

The prosecutor said Brown's organization used 171 counterfeit prescriptions to buy Dilaudid at 70 pharmacies.

Brown had counterfeit prescription pads printed with the names of actual doctors, said Catherine J. Cmiel and Cathy A. Gallagher, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The forms listed pay telephone numbers instead of the doctors' real numbers. When pharmacists called to confirm, members of Brown's group would answer the phone with a greeting that made it appear to be the doctor's office.

Some pharmacists caught onto the scheme when they recognized that the number listed on the prescription form did not match the geographical area for the doctor's office, the agents said.

Five members of the group were not prosecuted, they said.

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