16 Indicted in Maryland "Pill Mill" Ring Bust - NBC4 Washington

16 Indicted in Maryland "Pill Mill" Ring Bust

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Owners of Maryland Pain Clinics Accused of Operating Pill Mills

    Investigators say three Maryland clinics were used as a cover to push prescription pills. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reported from Oxon Hill where one of the so-called pill mills was located. (Published Thursday, May 28, 2015)

    Sixteen people have been charged with illegally using clinics in Maryland and D.C. to distribute prescription drugs for cash, according to prosecutors.

    Three Maryland clinics were named in the indictment: PG Wellness Center in Oxon Hill, First Priority Health Care in Elkridge and MPC Wellness Center in Greenbelt. The indictment also named A Plus Pain Clinic in D.C.

    The suspects face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Three of the suspects additionally face a maximum of ten years in prison for health care fraud. And all of the indictments seek the seizure of money and property from those charged.

    How the Operation Worked

    Owners of the pain management clinics operated them as “pill mills” and routinely prescribed and distributed oxycodone outside the safe practice of the clinics, said prosecutors. The owners then pocketed the cash from the drug sales, according to prosecutors.

    Those indicted also recruited “runners” to visit their clinics, said law enforcement. These “runners” would visit the office, claim false medical needs, fill their prescriptions, and then give the distributors their pills to sell for cash, said law enforcement.

    Owners of the “pill mill” even required “runners” to fill out the proper paperwork to support their false claims, the indictments claim. If the “runner” was not able to complete the paperwork, which included an MRI report and a prescription history, the owners then falsified their paperwork, said prosecutors.

    Other conspirators also helped to circumnavigate Maryland's prescription drug monitoring programs by having the “runners” fill their prescriptions in Washington D.C., Delaware, and Virginia, said prosecutors. Conspirators also kept a list of which pharmacies had supplies and were willing to fill prescriptions for “runners,” said prosecutors.

    “Abuse of oxycodone is one of our most significant drug enforcement challenges, and it is a direct cause of the epidemic of heroin overdose deaths,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

    The Sixteen Individuals 

    The following people were charged, the indictment alleges:

    • Donald Russell, 51, of Waldorf, Maryland
    • Bruce Kevin Lewis, 52, of Deale, Maryland
    • Danielle Silberstein, 31, of Waldorf, Maryland
    • Peter Snyder, 34, of Ocean City, Maryland
    • Robert Long, 34, of Mechanicsville, Maryland
    • Jamie Davis, 28, of LaPlata, Maryland
    • Ronald Tennyson, 32, of Mechanicsville, Virginia
    • Terrell Downing, 25, of New Carrollton, Maryland
    • John Fields, 62, of Temple Hills, Maryland
    • Ronald Rust, 44, of Alexandria, Virginia
    • Ronald Kans, 41, of LaPlata, Maryland
    • Walter Moffett, 51, of Chestertown, Maryland
    • Melissa Catlett, 38, of King George, Virginia
    • Alex Mori, 29, of Nanjemoy, Maryland
    • Thomas Dalton, 29, or Waldorf, Maryland
    • Joyce Vercauteren, 41, Clinton, Maryland

    Inside the Charges

    Thirteen suspects are charged with “conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone” in the first indictment, according to the U.S. Attorney for Maryland and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and state and local law enforcement in Maryland and Virginia.

    Two suspects, Russell and Lewis, owned and operated PG Wellness Center in Oxon Hill and A Plus Pain Clinic in D.C. from February 2014 to May 2015, the indictment alleges. Seven other suspects acted as distributors; according to the indictment they are Silberstein, Snyder, Long, Downing, Rust, Kans, and Moffett.

    Two other suspects, Davis and Tennyson, were alleged “runners,” the indictment alleges. Fields was a "runner" who dealt with Russell directly to obtain and distribute the oxycodone and Silberstein and Catlett regularly purchased pills in bulk from Russell, the indictment alleges. 

    Three suspects, Russell, Fields, and Moffett, are also charged with health care fraud for submitting health insurance claims seeking reimbursement for non-medical prescriptions, the indictment alleges.

    During one month, those two clinics would see 400 patients and distribute a total of 40,000 pills, the indictment alleges. That indictment seeks the suspects forfeit $1.2 million several vehicles and bank accounts. 

    The two suspects charged in the second indictment, Mori and Dalton, owned and operated First Priority Health Care clinic in Elkridge from November 2013 to May 2015, the indictment alleges. During one month, the clinic would see at least 200 patients and distribute a total of 20,000 pills,an indictment alleges.

    That indictment seeks the suspects forfeit $600,000 and some Maryland property. 

    One suspect, Vercauteren, is charged in the third indictment. Vercauteren owned and operated a MPC Wellness Center clinic in Greenbelt, Maryland from May 2014 to May 2015, the indictment says. During one month, the clinic would see at least 400 patients and distribute a total of 40,000 pills, the indictment alleges.

    That indictment seeks the suspect forfeits $1.2 million and a vehicle.