By: Debbie Rolen Staff Writer
September 1, 2013
A Texas doctor, who formerly practiced in Logan County, was charged by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in connection with a Logan County pill mill.
Dr. Fernando Gonzales-Ramos, 47, of El Paso, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.
According to the information from December 2012 through March 3, 2013, Gonzales-Ramos knowingly dispensed controlled substances for illegitimate medical purposes.
Gonzales-Ramos was a practicing physician in and around Logan County, before moving to El Paso.
According to a publicly available criminal complaint made by the FBI, on March 2, 2013, an individual cooperating with law enforcement entered a building at Logan that the defendant used at the time to distribute narcotics and paid $450 cash in exchange for a prescription for the painkiller hydrocodone. Early the next day, law enforcement agents observed several people waiting outside the same building. Law enforcement agents executed a search warrant on the building. During the execution of the warrant, agents discovered a number of individuals waiting inside to get written prescriptions. Law enforcement agents also discovered that the building did not have an examination table or basic medical equipment such as a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, or scales. The search conducted by law enforcement further revealed no running water in the building.
The investigation also revealed that employees working in the building at the time were an armed security guard, a bodyguard carrying brass knuckles, and a nurse/receptionist.
The Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum submitted by Gonzales-Ramos’ counsel, outlines a downward spiral into debt and alcohol abuse, which begins with his serving seven years in the Army National Guard in Texas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. He was honorably discharged in 1995, then received his medical degree in 1996. In 2006, as he was looking for a better life for his wife and three children, ages twelve, nine and six, he moved his medical practice from Puerto Rico to Logan. He had trouble selling his home in Puerto Rico and his debt continued to grow. In July of 2011, Dr. Gonzales-Ramos moved his family to Texas, where he and his wife both obtained positions at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Finances kept Gonzales-Ramos coming to Logan every three months to see his former patients. He was unable to sell his house at Logan because of negative equity and a tax lien — Gonzales-Ramos owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $170,000 in back taxes and as he got more desperate financially, he continued to seek out “easy money” and turned to alcohol to cope with the stress.
A sentencing hearing for Gonzales-Ramos is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, in front of the Honorable John T. Copenhaver, Jr. Defendant Fernando Gonzales-Ramos previously pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. Gonzales-Ramos faces a minimum of 57 months and up to 71 months in prison.