Pittsburgh man pleads guilty to painkiller possession, health care fraud
A Pittsburgh man described as one of the region’s largest illegal distributors of prescription painkillers could spend the rest of his life in jail after pleading guilty in federal court this week to health care fraud and illegally possessing large amounts of prescription painkillers.
William Richardson, 57, of Geyer Avenue pleaded guilty Thursday as his trial in federal court in Pittsburgh was beginning before U.S. Judge Mark Hornak, according to a release Friday from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.
Richardson pleaded guilty to health care fraud and illegally possessing oxycodone or oxymorphone with the intent to distribute, as well as illegally having firearms, prosecutors said.
“William Richardson was among Pittsburgh’s largest illegal distributors of the prescription painkillers oxycodone and Opana, and the crime he perpetrated can be described as taxpayer-funded drug dealing,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a statement.
The judge also was told Richardson coordinated with many people who sold him the drugs for redistribution. Those drugs were bought through medical insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Richardson also acquired prescription opiate medication from a large-scale illegal opiate pill distributor from Detroit and got opiate pills through his own opiate-pill prescriptions, which he obtained fraudulently, prosecutors said.
Pittsburgh police initiated a drug buy from Richardson in August 2014 and then seized his stash of painkillers and guns when they searched his home. More pills, a cellphone and cash were seized in a second raid on his home in June 2016, while Richardson was under house arrest, prosecutors said.
Richardson could be sentenced to up to 180 years in prison and be fined $10.7 million.