Friday, 06 21, 2013
The owner of pill mills in Georgetown, Ky., and Dry Ridge, Ky., which illegally dispensed prescription drugs to thousands of patients, was found guilty on all 21 counts of drug trafficking, money laundering, opening and maintaining a drug involved premise and conspiracy charges.
On Thursday, the jury returned guilty verdicts against 45 year-old Ernest William Singleton and his corporate fronts— Double D Holdings, LLC and S and R Medical Enterprises, LLC. These entities, controlled by Singleton, in turn owned Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management; Central Kentucky Family Pharmacy of Georgetown and the Grant County Wellness Center in Dry Ridge, Ky. The two clinics were convicted of the same charges as Singleton. Double D Holdings was convicted on drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. The pharmacy was convicted of money laundering charges. The jury returned the verdict after approximately three hours of deliberation, following three weeks of trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, starting in October of 2010 and continuing until February 2013, doctors at the clinics prescribed Diazepam and Ultram outside the scope of professional practice, not for a legitimate medical purpose, and under Singleton's direction. Singleton then used his businesses to launder the proceeds gained from the drug trafficking.
Additionally, the jury found that Singleton used the drug proceeds to purchase a house in Willisburg, Ky., a boat, farmland, and farm equipment, among other items. Singleton will have to forfeit bank accounts consisting of $427,834.34, more than 20 firearms, over 40 pieces of farm equipment, vehicles, and livestock that either facilitated the crimes or were purchased with proceeds obtained from his criminal offenses.
The evidence at trial established that Singleton oversaw the daily operations of the clinics, influenced doctors to overprescribe drugs to patients, and pressured them to see as many patients as possible. Witnesses testified that, at Singleton's direction, one of the doctors saw more than 90 patients in a day and another doctor visited with some patients for as little as three minutes, before prescribing medication.
Testimony also revealed that when some doctors complained to Singleton, about the volume of patients, he instructed them not to reduce their patient load and told them "if we don't give them (patients) what they want, they won't come back." Doctors testified that they could not provide adequate medical care under Singleton's guidelines. Two of the doctors employed by Singleton, Lea Marlow and Gregory White, pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiring to distribute controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
Other evidence established that the pain clinics operated on a cash-only basis and did not accept insurance. New patients paid approximately $250 on the first visit and $300 on subsequent visits. Investigators estimate that approximately 5,000 patients visited the clinics during the course of the conspiracy.
"Mr. Singleton is a drug dealer who used his business as a front for his criminal scheme," said Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "We will continue to pursue those who operate pill mills that bring so much pain to our communities. This successful prosecution exemplifies the sort of interagency collaboration that is necessary to effectively combat the scourge of illegal drug trafficking in our Commonwealth. We congratulate our law enforcement partners in this case and appreciate the great work of our trial team."
"This verdict sends a clear message that drug and money laundering violations are serious crimes against the American public. IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners, plays a very important role in the successful investigation and prosecution of these types of financial crimes," said Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Nashville Field Office.
"The defendant's greed came at a substantial cost to many families in the Commonwealth," said Attorney General Jack Conway. "This case is a perfect example of why entrepreneurs should not be in control of pain management clinics, I appreciate the hard work of my Drug Investigative Branch and prosecutors who worked in coordination with our state and federal law enforcement partners to bring the defendant to justice and obtain this guilty verdict."
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration; Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge of IRS, Criminal Investigation Division; Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General; and Rodney Brewer, Commissioner of Kentucky State Police, jointly made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and Kentucky State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ron Walker and Patrick Molloy with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawna Kincer, who is the Executive Director of Special Prosecutions with the Kentucky Attorney General's Office, prosecuted the case.
Singleton faces up to 20 years in prison for both the money laundering and drug trafficking conspiracies. The businesses face a maximum of fine of $250,000. However, any sentences following conviction would be imposed after the Court reviews the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.