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Fri August 17, 2012
22 Charged In Eastern Ky. Prescription Drug Cases
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Doctors and pain clinic owners in three states were charged Friday in five cases with making millions of dollars by illegally distributing prescription drugs in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, where drug abuse is rampant.
Federal indictments unsealed in Pikeville detail schemes by doctors in Texas, Florida and Kentucky and pain clinic owners in Kentucky, Ohio and Florida to distribute hundreds of thousands of prescription pills in an area ravaged by prescription drug addiction.
U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey of Lexington said the cases were not necessarily related.
"I think these indictments do speak to the wide-ranging nature of the problem," Harvey told The Associated Press. "I think this ... would represent major drug trafficking activity. In most cases, hundreds of thousands of pills were involved."
Charged were Dr. Linda Roos, 46, of Houston, Texas, who faces counts of conspiring to distribute pills in Pike County. Prosecutors say Roos prescribed more than 125,000 Oxycodone pills from September 2006 until July 2011 and faxed many of her prescriptions to a pharmacy in Pikeville so the patients who visited her could pick them up on their way home from Texas. Prosecutors say Roos also often allowed patients to obtain a prescription by faxing her a form.
Two of Roos's patients, Dennis and Helen Varney, are charged with conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs. Authorities say they found hundreds of Oxycodone pills while searching the Varney's residence. Dennis Varney, 62, is charged with multiple counts of distributing Oxycodone pills. Six other people are also charged in that case.
The second case involves Pikeville pharmacy manager Beverly Lockhart, 58, who is charged with conspiring with Dr. Thad Manning of Pikeville to sell prescription drug samples. Lockhart is also charged with defrauding Medicare by submitting reimbursement claims for medications the pharmacy never provided to the customers. Eastern Kentucky pharmacist, James Ronald Huffman was also indicted but will not see the inside of a courtroom. According to the Floyd County Times newspaper, the Pikeville pharmacist checked himself into a hotel in Chapmanville, West Virginia on Wednesday, but never checked out. His body was discovered by hotel staff Thursday morning.
A third case charges 39-year-old Tammy Cantrell and 50-year-old Shelby Lackey, co-owners of Caremore pain clinic in Johnson County, with conspiring with a doctor to distribute Hydrocodone to Johnson County residents. Prosecutors say the pair made nearly $2 million in drug proceeds.
A fourth indictment alleges that the co-owners of Auto Accident and Health Care in Auxier, in Floyd County, Ray Douglas Stapleton, 34, and his wife Tina Marie Stapleton, 33, conspired with two doctors, Stephen C. Arny of Shelbyville and Emmanuel Acosta of Auxier.
Prosecutors say they schemed to unlawfully dispense Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Xanax to Johnson County residents and made approximately $1.5 million from July 2010 through June 2012.
A fifth case charges 37-year-old Jody Robinson of Portsmouth, Ohio, who owns pain clinic in Florida, conspired with Dr. Clara S. Roriguez-Izanga of Miami Beach, Fla., and a third person to launder money and illegally dispense prescription drugs to patients from Boyd, Greenup, and Lawrence counties. Prosecutors say the clinic allegedly made about $2 million in just over a year.
Wesley Varney of Pikeville, the attorney for Arny, James Wiley Craft II, the Whitesburg-based attorney for Roos, and Patrick Nash, the Lexington attorney for Lockhart, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Friday afternoon.
"This won't bring it to an end," Harvey said We do hope these indictments ... send a very clear message to those who are engaged in drug trafficking that they do so at considerable risk to their freedom."
The indictments came after a long-running investigation involving the FBI, Kentucky State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration.
A Louisiana pain clinic owner, Michael Leman, was sentenced earlier this month to 15 years in federal prison for the illegal distribution of prescription pills in eastern Kentucky. Prosecutors in Lexington described that case as the first in which a clinic owner had been prosecuted for the offense.