Authorities Wednesday arrested four of 10 defendants indicted on federal charges in an alleged drug trafficking scheme that included a Santa Ana physician accused of prescribing opioids to sham patients who sold the drugs.
Dr. John Michael Korzelius of Camarillo, 68, who practiced at a clinic in Santa Ana, was among the 10 defendants indicted in March by a federal grand jury. The indictments were unsealed Wednesday.
Korzelius is accused of writing unnecessary prescriptions for the highest dose available for oxycodone to bogus patients, according to the indictment. He allegedly doled out prescriptions for about 439,090 pills of the powerful narcotic over two years, according to prosecutors.
Korzelius worked for ChiroMed, a group of clinics in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, according to the indictment. The pain management clinics have offices in Santa Ana, Fontana, Huntington Park, Redondo Beach, and Inglewood.
Justin Douglas Cozart, 42, and Damoon Joe Navarchi, 33, both of Woodland Hills, operated the clinics in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, according to the indictment.
Mayra Barrios, 37, of Yorba Linda, “would oversee the day-to-day management of the medical clinics, including the issuance of fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions to sham patients,” the indictment alleges.
Cozart “would retain corrupt doctors and physician assistants” to prescribe pain pills in exchange for cash, the indictment alleges.
Xavier Muduki Mabale, 42, of Anaheim, recruited sham patients, the indictment alleges.
Harrison Maruje Mureithi, 42, of Norco, and Duncan Muthoni Wanjohi, 23, of Anaheim, provided cash to Mabale to pay for the bogus oxycodone prescriptions written to the sham patients, the indictment alleges.
Mabale allegedly helped the sham patients fill out forms falsely claiming maladies to obtain the pills, the indictment alleges. Mabale paid cash to Cozart, Navarchi, Barrios and others for the fraudulent prescriptions, the indictment alleges.
Another unnamed doctor would also issue the fraudulent prescriptions, according to the indictment, and other unnamed physician assistants allegedly are also part of the conspiracy.
Mabale and Wanjohi would take cash from Mureithi to make bulk oxycodone purchases, the indictment alleges. Mureithi, Mabale and Wanjohi packaged and shipped bulk quantities of oxycodone to Pierre Delva Jr., 33, of Medford, Massachusetts, as well as others in the state via UPS and Federal Express, prosecutors said.
Harrison Mureithi, his mother, Louise W. Mureithi, 69, of Anaheim, Mabale and Majid Nojavan, 42, of Laguna Niguel, were arrested Wednesday morning and were scheduled to make initial court appearances in federal court in Santa Ana in the afternoon.
Louise Mureithi is accused of receiving packages of cash sent to her son for the drugs, and Njojavan allegedly advertised the drug for sale on Craigslist and sold fentanyl to an undercover investigator, who was directed to an Inglewood medical clinic to get a bogus prescription for oxycodone, according to the indictment.
Korzelius, Cozart, Navarchi and Barrios are expected to make their initial appearances in court next week. Delva and Wanjohi are fugitives, according to prosecutors.
Federal agents seized 30,737 oxycodone pills and $177,610 in cash in the two-year probe, prosecutors said. One of the packages intercepted by investigators was a teddy bear packed with two bags of oxycodone pills, they said.