A pair of gynecologists who had recently completed residency programs at Christiana Care Health System and who planned to be married next year were arrested Thursday after a federal investigation identified them as illegal drug sellers on the SilkRoad, a formerly anonymous Web site where prosecutors say contraband was sold to buyers around the world.
Federal agents detained 32-year-old Dr. Olivia Louise Bolles near her home in a development south of Newark, Del. In a criminal complaint Thursday, prosecutors accused her of illegally selling drugs online to buyers in at least 17 countries.
Dr. Bolles, who this past summer completed her residency at Christiana Care, the dominant hospital system in northern Delaware, was charged with illegal distribution of controlled substances. The initial complaint, filed Thursday by federal prosecutors in Orlando, where the DEA investigation was based, said Bolles sold drugs through SilkRoad, which used the electronic private currency Bitcoin to make it hard to identify buyers and sellers. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison if found guilty of charges.
Bolles' roommate at her Delaware townhome, Dr. Alexandra Pauline "Xandie" Gold, who is listed as an Instructor of Gynecology and Obstetrics by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Hospital, "was arrested and charged with conspiracy," DEA special agent John Hamick told me. In a second complaint, filed Friday, the DEA said the doctors were stopped in a car Thursday near their home. Agents questioned them. Dr. Gold, who was driving, admitted packaging illegal drugs for sale, according to the DEA complaint against her.
Gold did not respond to emails. Bolles did not immediately reply to an attempt to reach her by social media. An online wedding registry site lists the date of Gold's and Bolles' planned wedding for late 2014.
According to the federal complaint filed in Orlando, Bolles sold drugs on the SilkRoad site under the business name "MDPro" from March until Oct. 2, when Silk Road was shut down by federal agents after its operator, former Penn State physics grad student Ross Ulbricht, was arrested and charged with trying to hire paid killers to murder people he thought threatened his business.
According to the complaint against Gold, federal agents traced Bolles to SilkRoad and searched the doctors' trash outside their Delaware townhome two weeks after SilkRoad was shut down, and found packing materials they linked to illegal drug sales. DEA Agent Jared Gabbay then went online to arrange an anonymous drug buy and contacted Bolles through another secure Web site, Black Market Reloaded, where she was now doing business as "GenRX1". According to Gabbay's statement in the complaint, Bolles told him that she was the same person who'd been selling drugs through Silk Road as MDPro. She sold and shipped him an order of narcotic cough syrup, a controlled substance that typically requires a doctor's prescription.
According to the government, Drug Enforcement Agency agents in Florida had earlier purchased Oxycodone, Diazepam, Xanax, Adderall, Vynase, and two marijuana derivatives -- hash oil and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- by mail from Bolles, through the SilkRoad site. According to the complaint against Bolles, "Bolles used her personal bank accounts to purchase items which were used to further her illegal drug dealing business, including packaging and laboratory materials. More than 600 sales of controlled substances are alleged to have been mailed, by Bolles, to individuals in more than 17 different countries." Bolles worked as a pharmacy technician before graduating from the University of Missouri medical school in Columbia, Mo.
In court documents, the DEA said Bolles shipped drugs in Sour Patch and Swedish Fish candy boxes. One shipment in a watermelon-flavored candy box contained "a silver, heat-sealed, Mylar anti-static type bag which contained a plastic baggie" containing four Oxycontin 80mg painkiller tablets. The Florida complaint also said Bolles "provided advice on giving heroin injections." It added that the drugs were sent through a private postal box in Delaware rented to "Samples Unlimited," which had not been registered as a Delaware business. Also according to the complaint, Bolles bought chemicals on eBay to use in processing hash oil. Federal postal inspectors and the Australian customs service helped the DEA track Bolles' shipments.
How will the arrests affect the medical careers of the two doctors who worked for years to achieve professional status? "Dr. Bolles is a former OB/GYN resident at Christiana. She successfully completed our residency program in July 2013. She is no longer a resident. She is not currently employed by us," Christiana spokesman Hiran Ratnayake told me. After leaving Christiana, Bolles worked at a nearby women's medical practice. Staff at that office told me she wasn't in Friday morning.
"Dr. Gold completed her residence in June of 2012. She is a member of Christiana Care's medical staff. Dr. Gold has been suspended pending further investigation," Ratnayake told me.
Dr. Gold is also listed on Johns Hopkins University's Web site as an "Instructor in Gynecology and Obstetrics" and author of a paper about birth control. A spokeswoman at Johns Hopkins had no immediate comment on Gold's status at the elite Baltimore medical school when I talked to her on Friday; she and a second spokeswoman did not return additional calls seeking comment.
The hospital where the doctors completed their residencies is now investigating them. "Christiana Care puts the safety of our patients first. While we have no reason to suspect any patients may have been harmed under the care" of Bolles or Gold, "we have begun an internal investigation of their activities at Christiana," spokesman Ratnayake told me.
See also a story in the Orlando Sentinel here.