Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jury Convicts Couple of Operating a Pill Mill in Waverly

CINCINNATI—A U.S. District Court jury has convicted a West Portsmouth, Ohio couple of operating Ohio Medical and Pain Management LLC in Waverly, Ohio as a continuing criminal enterprise, a crime punishable by at least 20 years and up to life imprisonment.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Waverly Police Chief Larry Roe; and Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini announced the verdict that was returned today following three days of deliberation after a 10-day trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith.

In addition to conviction on the charge of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, the jury convicted clinic owner Nancy Sadler, 49, of West Portsmouth, Ohio and her husband, Lester Sadler, aka “Ape,” 56, of one count each of conspiracy and maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing drugs. The jury also convicted Nancy Sadler of one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering for the illegal purchase and sale of 40,200 units of hydrocodone in order to purchase a convertible. Each of those crimes is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Judge Beckwith remanded the Sadlers to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and ordered them held pending sentencing. She will schedule sentencing following a pre-sentence investigation by the court.

The government is seeking forfeiture of $1.8 million based on testimony presented during the trial that the Sadlers were making $900,000 a year at the clinic.

Testimony presented during the trial proved that the clinic operated as a “pill mill” by selling prescriptions for controlled substances (usually oxycodone), without a legitimate medical need for the prescriptions. Many of the prescriptions were openly sold and diverted.

Testimony was presented during the trial that the clinic was usually open three or four days per week. New customers were normally charged $180 for the initial visit. Returning customers were charged $125 to $150 per visit. Witnesses testified that the customers received no genuine examination by a physician. Instead, the clinic staff would often prepare the medical charts and prescription forms in advance, sit the customers down with the physician, and then the physician would sign the prescription at her desk.

Three others charged in the indictment that was returned in August 2010 have pleaded guilty. Lisa Clevenger, 50, of Stoutsville, and a sister of Nancy Sadler pleaded guilty on February 29, 2012 to one count of maintaining drug-involved premises. Lester Sadler’s father, James Sadler, 80, of West Portsmouth, pleaded guilty on December 20, 2011 to one count of conspiracy. Brenda Banks, 59, of Columbus, Ohio, formerly a physician at the clinic, pleaded guilty on April 30, 2012 to one count of acquiring or possessing a controlled substance through deception, punishable by up to four years in prison. All three are awaiting sentencing.

“This case grew from an on-going investigation by federal, state, and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies into the problem of prescription drug diversion,” Stewart said. “Prescription drug diversion and the related crimes that accompany it are emerging as an increasing threat to the region’s safety.”

“This indictment underscores DEA’s commitment to bring to justice those who would betray their promise to provide legitimate medical care to the community,” Corso said. “The indictment alleges that the defendants in this case benefited financially on the backs of other’s misery. When DEA uncovers evidence of this type of illegal diversion of legitimate pharmaceuticals by health care professionals, we will treat them in the same manner as any other street dealer peddling cocaine or heroin.”

Stewart commended the agencies that are participating in the ongoing investigation including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy; Pike and Scioto County sheriffs’ offices in Ohio; Portsmouth Police Department; the Lewis and Greenup County sheriff’s offices in Kentucky; the Russell, Kentucky Police Department; the Kentucky Department of Public Health, Drug Control and Professional Practices; and the Kentucky State Police. Stewart also commended Cincinnati-based Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Mangan and Tim Oakley, who are prosecuting the case.

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