HARRIS COUNTY, TX- Sokari “Momma” Bobmanuel, 63, was sentenced to 14 years in prison following her conviction at trial for conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances. Alantha Stewart, 42, was sentenced to 10 years in prison following her guilty plea to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances.
According to court documents, from May 2018 to August 2019, Bobmanuel was the owner and pharmacist-in-charge of Cornerstone Rx Pharmacy (Cornerstone), which illegally distributed nearly 160,000 opioid pills, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, often based on prescriptions issued by co-conspirator Jonathan Rosenfield, M.D., and others from Sunnyside Medical, which consisted of two Houston-area pill-mill clinics. Bobmanuel, through Cornerstone, distributed controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice, and without a legitimate medical purpose, to individuals who brought prescriptions in the names of other people. These individuals then sold the pills they bought from Cornerstone on the illegal market. Bobmanuel charged exorbitant prices for the pills – often $1,200 for a single oxycodone prescription – generating over $1 million from the scheme.
Stewart, who co-owned and co-operated the Sunnyside Medical pill-mill clinics, doing business as Sunnyside #1 and Sunnyside #2, and her co-conspirators issued prescriptions for opioids, including approximately 752,000 pills of oxycodone and 419,000 pills of hydrocodone, under co-owner and co-conspirator Rosenfield’s name, outside the usual course of professional practice, and not for a legitimate medical purpose. The prescriptions often were issued to individuals paid by drug dealers to pose as patients, and the pills ultimately were diverted to the illegal market. From May 2018 to August 2019, the Sunnyside Medical clinics made approximately $5.4 million from the sale of the prescriptions of these drugs.
Co-defendants Rosenfield and Elmer Taylor pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 15.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge David Martinez of the FBI Houston Field Office made the announcement.
The DEA Houston Division and FBI Houston Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Monica Cooper, Ariel Glasner, and Courtney Chester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Emily Petro, formerly of the Fraud Section and currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney of the Middle District of Tennessee, prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, currently comprised of nine strike forces operating in 27 federal districts, has charged more than 5,000 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $24.7 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.