The Department of Justice, together with federal and state law enforcement partners, today announced criminal charges against 14 defendants in eight federal districts across the United States for their alleged involvement in crimes related to the unlawful distribution of opioids. Twelve of the defendants were medical professionals at the time of these alleged offenses.
“Today’s Opioid Enforcement Action highlights the Justice Department’s latest efforts in responding to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which last year alone caused the tragic loss of life for more than 75,000 people in the United States due to overdose,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly with its partners to combat this epidemic, and to seek to prevent the next tragic loss of life.”
- Contessa Holley, 45, of Pulaski, Tennessee, was charged by indictment with wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 2, aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A and 2, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a), in connection with an alleged scheme to unlawfully obtain opioids by filling fraudulent prescriptions in the names of current and former hospice patients.
Holley, a former nurse and clinical director, allegedly used the personally identifiable information of her patients at two different hospices to fill unauthorized prescriptions for thousands of hydrocodone and oxycodone pills.
According to the indictment, Holley used the patients’ hospice benefits to cover the costs of the unlawfully obtained prescription opioids, but allegedly kept the drugs for her own use and further distribution. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Emily Petro and Leslie Fisher of the ARPO Strike Force.
- Hau T. La, 54, of Brentwood, Tennessee, was charged by indictment with sixteen counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a). La operated Absolute Medical Care, a medical clinic in Smyrna, Tennessee, where he is alleged to have unlawfully prescribed opioids.
Specifically, according to the indictment, La prescribed oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine to eight patients outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Leslie Fisher of the ARPO Strike Force.
- Yogeshwar Gill, 45, of Manchester, Tennessee, was charged by indictment with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, and maintaining a drug-involved premises, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856.
Gill, a family medicine doctor, who owned and operated a medical practice in Manchester, was charged in connection with an alleged scheme to distribute opioids and Suboxone outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Petro of the ARPO Strike Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney James Brooks of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
“Doctors and health care professionals are entrusted with prescribing medicine responsibly and in the best interests of their patients. Today’s takedown targets medical providers across the country whose greed drove them to abandon this responsibility in favor of criminal profits,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “DEA will use every tool at our disposal to stop drug diversion and fraud. And we are working tirelessly each day to make our communities safer and healthier.”
An indictment, complaint, or information is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.