69-count indictment charges 12 with running 'pill mill' in Virginia, West Virginia

A 69-count indictment charged 12 individuals with operating a "pill mill" in Virginia and West Virginia.

Here are eight things to know:

1. The owners, managers and physicians at the Hope Clinic in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston, W.Va., as well as Wytheville, Va., and a related company, were charged with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances not for legitimate medical purposes and outside the usual course of professional practice from November 2010 to June 2015.

2. These are the 12 individuals charged with conspiracy in the indictment:

  • James Blume, Jr., DO, also charged with maintaining drug-involved premises in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston
  • Mark Radcliffe, also charged with maintaining drug-involved premises in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston
  • Joshua Radcliffe
  • Michael Moran, MD
  • Sanjay Mehta, DO, also charged with two counts of distribution of controlled substances causing death
  • Brian Gullett, DO
  • Vernon Stanley, MD
  • Mark Clarkson, DO
  • William Easley, DO
  • Paul Burke, MD
  • Roswell Tempest Lowry, MD
  • Teresa Emerson, LNP

3. The indictment includes 62 counts charging several physicians with distribution of controlled substances not for legitimate medical purposes and outside the usual course of professional practice; 10 of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to launder drug proceeds by paying bonuses to Hope Clinic physicians and employees of Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacists Fighting Diversion to encourage continued prescribing of Schedule II narcotics.

4. According to the indictment, Hope Clinic owner Dr. Blume entered into a physician practice management agreement with Mark Radcliffe, the owner of PPPFD, to be the HOPE Clinic's practice manager. The indictment alleges that Dr. Blume and Mr. Radcliffe operated Hope Clinic together as a cash-based business that prescribed oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances while refusing to accept insurance.

5. The indictment alleges that Hope Clinic practitioners prescribed thousands of oxycodone-based pills to individuals: some Hope Clinic locations averaged 65 or more customers a day during a 10-hour workday with only one practitioner working. 

6. The indictment also alleges that Dr. Blume and Mr. Radcliffe contracted physicians without any knowledge of pain management who consistently conducted cursory, incomplete, or no medical examinations of Clinic patients. The physicians provided large amounts of Schedule II prescription medications to patients that they knew or had reasonable cause to believe had substance use disorder.

7. Without any formal medical training, Mr. Radcliffe and his son, Joshua Radcliffe, instructed medical practitioners at HOPE Clinic to write prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, sometimes even when practitioners had differing clinical opinions.

8. The defendants face between 20 and 340 years in prison if convicted.

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