Chattanooga Pain Clinic Operators Indicted
September 11, 2012 Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
Chattanooga Pain Clinic Owners And Operators Indicted For Illegal Distribution Of Drugs
Four individuals involved with four clinics charged and $7.2 million in forfeitures sought
Twenty-three individuals charged in related Knoxville case
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - A federal grand jury in Chattanooga, Tenn., returned a sealed 66 count indictment on August 28, 2012, against Faith Blake, a.k.a Faith Marvell Brueland, Faith Fuentes, and Faith Baker, 40, of Houston, Tex.; Barbara Lang, a.k.a Barbara Langford and Aunt Bea, 58, of Rossville, Ga.; Charles Reed Larmore, a.k.a Chuck Larmore, 64, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Dr. Jerome Arnold Sherard, 58, of Hixson, Tenn. The indictment was unsealed today and is attached to this press release.
Blake, Lang, Larmore, and Sherard are charged with conspiring to illegally distribute and dispense several controlled substances, including oxycodone, methadone, morphine, hydrocodone (Vicoden), and alprazolam (Xanax). They are also charged with maintaining drug-involved premises (pain clinics). Larmore and Sherard are also charged with specific distributions of controlled substances to certain patients. Forfeiture allegations seeking $7.2 million were also brought by the grand jury. The indictment details over $1 million in cash and bank accounts that have already been seized.
Blake and Lang owned and operated Superior One Medical Clinic at different locations in Chattanooga from December 2010 to July 2011. Blake operated Elite Care Pain Clinic at different locations in Chattanooga from August to November 2011. Lang and Larmore operated Primary Care and Pain Clinic at different locations in Chattanooga from August 2011 to the present. Sherard also operated his own medical practice under several names including, Sherard Clinic, Sherard Pediatric Clinic, Sherard Family Clinic, Sherard Medical Center, Sherard General Practice and Pain Management Clinic, and Skyview Medical Center of Chattanooga, from at least September 2009 through June 2012. Sherard was also the medical director for Superior One Medical Center and Elite Care Pain Clinic. Larmore was a nurse practitioner who worked at Superior One Medical Center and Primary Care and Pain Clinic before becoming the owner of Primary Care and Pain Clinic.
Blake was arrested in Houston, Tex., on September 6, 2012. She appeared in court on September 7, 2012 before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges in the indictment. She was released pending trial.
Lang and Larmore were arrested in Chattanooga, Tenn. Sherard was arrested in Seymour, Tenn. They appeared in court on September 7, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee and entered pleas of not guilty to the charges in the indictment. They were also released pending trial which has been set for November 5, 2012 in U.S. District Court, in Chattanooga, Tenn. As part of their conditions of release, both Larmore and Sherard surrendered their DEA licenses and are now prohibited from writing prescriptions for controlled substances.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million on each of the conspiracy charges, up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 on each of the maintaining a drug-involved premises charges, and prison terms of up to 20 years and fines of up to $1 million for each distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance, up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 for each distribution of a Schedule III controlled substance, and up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for each distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance.
As part of this investigation, on June 5, 2012, 23 individuals from Roane County who utilized these clinics as sources for their prescription drugs were charged with drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies. To date, 18 of those have either pleaded guilty or signed plea agreements on file with the U.S. District Court. Trial for the remaining individuals in that case is set for February 19, 2013. John Wesley Goss, 58, of Rockwood, Tenn., is the lead defendant in the Knoxville case. Some individuals in that case face up to life imprisonment, others up to 30 years in prison, and the remainder up to 20 years in prison. All could face fines of at least $1 million.
"Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem in our district and country. We will continue to aggressively indict and prosecute those cases," said U.S. Attorney William C. Killian.
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Prescription drug use is a problem in Tennessee
Drug overdose deaths in Tennessee are increasing:The number of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee increased from 422 in 2001 to 1,059 in 2010; The number of drug overdose deaths in 2010 represents an increase of 250% over the 10 year time period. Includes all drug overdose deaths where the manner of death was listed as one of the following: accidental, undetermined, suicide (intentional), or homicide.
Source: Office of Policy, Planning and Assessment, Tennessee Department of Health - Death Certificates.
The top three most prescribed controlled substances in Tennessee in 2010 are:
275.5 million pills of hydrocodone (e.g., Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin);
116.6 million pills prescribed for alprazolam (e.g., Xanax: used to treat anxiety);
113.5 million pills prescribed for oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Roxicodone) Hydrocodone and oxycodone are both prescription opioids used to treat pain.
The number of drugs prescribed during 2010 to Tennesseans represents:
51 pills of hydrocodone for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12;
22 pills of alprazolam for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12;
21 pills of oxycodone for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12.
Source: Report to the 2011 General Assembly by the Tennessee Department of Health Controlled Substance Database Advisory Committee, Board of Pharmacy.
Prescription drug abuse affects everyone:
Abuse of prescription opioids is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving state-funded treatment services;
Almost 250,000 Tennesseans older than 12 reported abusing prescription opioids in 2009.
Source: Treatment Episode Data Set - Admission (TEDS-A). 1999 - 2009. SAMHSA State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008 - 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.
Prescription drug abuse hits every profession and every socioeconomic level:
For those seeking state-funded treatment, people who were stable (married, employed and had at least a high school education) were 3.16 times more likely than less stable consumers to use prescription opioids than illicit drugs.
Source: Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. Tennessee Web Information Technology System (TN WITS) Database.
Prescription drug abuse especially affects women:
While more men were admitted to treatment in 2009 than women, a higher percentage of women abuse prescription opioids;
21% of 6,827 men reported prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse;
27% of 3,403 women listed prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse;
35% of 142 pregnant women admitted to state-funded treatment services in Tennessee listed prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse.
Source: SAMHSA State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008 - 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.
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