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February 20, 2018: U.S. Attorney Announces 69-count Indictment Charging Owners, Managers & Physicians Associated with Hope Clinic


OCI Small Clear Seal 

 

Food and Drug Administration 
Office of Criminal Investigations

 

United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced the unsealing of a 69-count indictment charging a total of 12 individuals with operating a “pill mill.”  The indictment charges the owners, managers & physicians associated with HOPE Clinic, which operated as a purported pain management clinic in Beckley, Beaver & Charleston, West Virginia, as well as Wytheville, Virginia, & a related company, with conspiring to distribute oxycodone & other Schedule II controlled substances, not for legitimate medical purposes and outside the usual course of professional practice, from November 2010 to June 2015.   

United States Attorney Mike Stuart was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Philadelphia Regional Office & Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Arp, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office.  “I commend the work of my team, under the leadership of AUSAs Monica Coleman & Meredith Thomas & the critical work of our law enforcement partners,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  Stuart commended the investigation conducted by agents with:

·       U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, OIG

·       Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations

·       Food & Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI)

·       Federal Bureau of Inquiry

·       Drug Enforcement Administration

·       West Virginia State Police

·       Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT)

·       Beckley Police Department

·       Kentucky State Police

·       Harrison County (KY) Sheriff’s Department

·       Appalachia HIDTA

The charges announced today aggressively target medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids & other dangerous controlled substances. “As of today, there are 69 counts.  10 doctors in total. Clinics from Beckley to Beaver, & Charleston to Wytheville. Lots and lots of pills, & even more misery,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.   Stuart continued, “Home-grown drug dealers hidden behind the veil of a doctor’s lab coat, a medical degree & a prescription pad are every bit as bad as the heroin dealers from Detroit who bring their poisons to West Virginia.  Today’s 69-count indictment is the continuation of our efforts to hold accountable those who prey on the good citizens of West Virginia.”

The following individuals are charged in the indictment: James H. Blume, Jr., D.O, Mark T. Radcliffe, Joshua Radcliffe, Michael T. Moran, M.D., Sanjay Mehta, D.O., Brian Gullett, D.O., Vernon Stanley, M.D., Mark Clarkson, D.O., William Easley, D.O., Paul W. Burke, M.D., Roswell Tempest Lowry, M.D., & Teresa Emerson, LNP. “We are committed to protecting all those in government health programs,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Working side by side with our law enforcement partners we will aggressively investigate charges of medical providers needlessly prescribing deadly opioids.” 

In addition to the conspiracy charge, the indictment charges defendants Blume & Mark Radcliffe with maintaining drug-involved premises in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston, & includes 62 counts charging several physicians with distribution of controlled substances not for legitimate medical purposes & outside the usual course of professional practice. The indictment also charges Sanjay Mehta, D.O., a former physician at the Beckley & Beaver HOPE Clinic locations, with two counts of distribution of controlled substances causing death, & charges 10 of the defendants with conspiracy to launder drug proceeds by paying bonuses to HOPE Clinic physicians & employees of Patients, Physicians, & Pharmacists Fighting Diversion, Inc. (PPPFD), to encourage continued prescribing of Schedule II narcotics to customers.   

According to the indictment, defendant James H. Blume, Jr., D.O., the owner of the HOPE Clinic, entered into a Physician Practice Management Agreement with defendant Mark T. Radcliffe, owner of PPPFD, to be the practice manager of the HOPE Clinic. The indictment alleges that together Blume & Radcliffe operated HOPE Clinic as a cash-based business that prescribed oxycodone & other Schedule II controlled substances to customers, while refusing to accept insurance, charging in-state customers at least $275 for an initial appointment, and at least $160 for each subsequent appointment.  Out of state customers paid as much as $330 for initial visits & at least $185 for subsequent visits.   The indictment alleges that HOPE Clinic practitioners prescribed thousands of oxycodone-based pills to individual customers & some HOPE Clinic locations, including Beaver & Charleston, averaged 65 or more customers a day during a 10-hour workday with only one practitioner working.  In addition, the indictment alleges that Blume & Mark T. Radcliffe contracted the services of physicians without any knowledge of pain management who consistently conducted cursory, incomplete, or no medical examinations of Clinic customers & provided large amounts of Schedule II prescription medications to customers that they knew, and had reasonable cause to believe, were drug addicts. The indictment further alleges that Mark T. Radcliffe & his son, Joshua Radcliffe, neither of whom had any formal medical education or training, instructed medical practitioners at HOPE Clinic to provide customers with prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, sometimes in direct contrast with the practitioners’ clinical opinions.

“Those who facilitate the abuse of controlled dangerous substances are negatively impacting our entire community and will be held accountable,” said Kimberly Lappin, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office.  “Today’s indictment is a reminder that IRS-CI will remain vigilant in our financial investigations and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat this type of conduct.”

If convicted on all charges as alleged in the indictment, Dr. Blume & Mark Radcliffe face up to 100 years; Joshua Radcliffe faces up to 20 years; Teresa Emerson faces up to 20 years; Michael Moran faces up to 60 years; Sanjay Mehta faces a forty year mandatory minimum sentence up to life imprisonment; Vernon Stanley faces up to 240 years; Brian Gullett faces up to 340 years; Mark Clarkson faces up to 80 years; William Earley faces up to 200 years; Paul Burke faces up to 180 years; & Roswell Tempest Lowry faces up to 120 years. In a related case, John Pellegrini faces up to 20 years imprisonment for his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering.   

This case is part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale & misuse of prescription drugs & heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state & local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing & shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District. 

Please find a link to the Indictment & Information below.

Indictment

Information

Please note:  An indictment is merely an allegation & all defendants are presumed innocent unless & until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

 

Topic(s): 

Drug Trafficking

Opioids

Prescription Drugs

 

Component(s): 

USAO – West Virginia, Southern

 

 

Updated: February 21, 2018 — 3:34 pm

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