UPDATE: Ohio Pain Clinic Doctor to Plead Guilty

By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 9/5/13
CINCINNATI (AP) - An ex-Ohio doctor has agreed to plead guilty to acquiring illegal drugs in a case involving fraudulent prescriptions at an Ohio pain clinic.

Marcellus Gilreath agreed to the guilty plea in July and the details of the agreement were unsealed late last month.

The agreement says Gilreath's guilty plea is contingent on him helping the government prosecute others involved in the illegal drug trade in southern Ohio.

Gilreath is accused of prescribing painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone to patients at Southern Ohio Complete Pain Management in Portsmouth knowing the patients had no legitimate need for the drugs.

Gilreath was one of six doctors charged in the case and alleged to have written illegal prescriptions at three clinics.

A message was left with Gilreath's attorney.



UPDATE 6/4/13
CINCINNATI (AP) -- A former Ohio medical clinic doctor charged with illegal drug distribution is scheduled to change his plea at a hearing that usually signals a guilty plea.

James Lassiter was one of six doctors accused in a federal indictment last year of prescribing pain medication without performing meaningful examinations of patients.

The indictment also alleged the 59-year-old Lassiter opened an unlicensed dispensary after legitimate pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions.

Cincinnati federal judge Michael Barrett on Tuesday scheduled a change of plea hearing for June 14 for Lassiter, who previously pleaded not guilty.

A message was left with Lassiter's attorney.

A 2012 indictment alleges dozens of customers would travel hundreds of miles weekly to visit the clinics in southern and central Ohio and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.



UPDATE 6/3/13
CINCINNATI (AP) -- A hearing that usually indicates a guilty plea has been scheduled for the owner of three Ohio medical clinics charged with illegal drug distribution.

Tracy Bias of West Portsmouth was accused in a federal indictment last year of overseeing six doctors who wrote illegal prescriptions.

The indictment also alleged the 48-year-old Bias opened an unlicensed dispensary after legitimate pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions.

Cincinnati federal judge Michael Barrett on Monday scheduled a change of plea hearing for June 7 for Bias, who previously pleaded not guilty.

Such hearings typically signal guilty pleas. A message was left with Bias' attorney.

The 2012 indictment alleged that dozens of customers a week would travel hundreds of miles to visit the clinics in southern and central Ohio and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.



UPDATE 1/17/13
CINCINNATI, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A federal grand jury has indicted Steven E. Hillman, 67, of Dublin, Ohio, on charges that he conspired with the owner of three pain clinics in Ohio to illegally divert prescription drugs outside the scope of legitimate medical practice and launder proceeds of the conspiracy.

The superseding indictment released Wednesday alleges that Hillman conspired with Tracy Bias, 47, of West Portsmouth, Ohio, in an attempt to open Physicians Pharmacy in Piketon, Ohio in order to service prescriptions for illegal distribution of controlled substances issued by the pain clinics owned and controlled by Bias and others.

The indictment charges that Hillman helped Bias launder $132,920 in cash from the activities of the conspiracy in July 2010.

Bias and six doctors were initially indicted in April 2012 in a 12-count indictment alleging that they operated three pill mills in southern Ohio between January 2009 and June 2011. The three clinics cited were Southern Ohio Complete Pain Management and Portsmouth Medical Solutions in Portsmouth, and Trinity Medical Care in Columbus, Ohio.

Customers allegedly traveled hundreds of miles to the clinics in central and southern Ohio where, for a cash payment of approximately $200 per office visit and with little or no physical examination, clinic customers would receive excessive amounts of “cocktails” of controlled substances including diazepam, hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazalam.

Conspiracy to distribute drugs outside the scope of legitimate medical practice and money laundering are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.



UPDATE 1/16/13
CINCINNATI (AP) -- An ex-doctor has pleaded guilty to a charge that he conspired to illegally distribute controlled substances at Ohio pain medication clinics.

An indictment last year against Mark Fantauzzi and six others alleged that dozens of customers a week would travel hundreds of miles to visit the clinics in southern and central Ohio and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.

The indictment said prescriptions were written without meaningful physical exams and contributed to the deaths of at least two patients.

Fantauzzi pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Cincinnati. No sentencing date was set.

State medical board records say Fantauzzi's medical license was permanently revoked in 2011. His attorney, Ransom Hudson, has declined comment.



UPDATE 11/26/12
CINCINNATI (AP) -- An Ohio doctor charged with illegal drug distribution is changing his plea in a case related to the alleged improper dispensing of prescription painkillers.

An indictment earlier this year alleged that dozens of customers a week would travel hundreds of miles to visit the clinics in southern and central Ohio and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.

A federal judge in Cincinnati has scheduled a change of plea hearing on Dec. 14 for Stephen Pierce, one of six doctors charged in the case.

A change of plea hearing typically signals that a defendant is about to plead guilty.

The 63-year-old Pierce pleaded not guilty to all charges in May.

A message was left with Pierce's attorney Monday seeking comment.



UPDATE 7/16/12 @ 12:20 p.m.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- An Ohio doctor charged with illegal drug distribution at an alleged pill mill has pleaded guilty in his case.

A federal indictment against Joon Chong charged him with being among six doctors at a southern Ohio clinic who wrote illegal painkiller prescriptions.

The April indictment alleged that customers would travel hundreds of miles weekly to visit the clinic and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.

69-year-old Chong pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to illegally acquire prescription painkillers through fraud.

A second clinic doctor is also expected to plead guilty Monday.

The indictment says prescriptions were written without meaningful physical exams and contributed to the deaths of at least two patients.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 7/16/12 @ 3 a.m.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Two Ohio doctors charged with illegal drug distribution are ready to plead guilty in their case on Monday.

A federal indictment against Joon Chong and John Dahlsten allege they were among six doctors at a southern Ohio clinic who wrote illegal painkiller prescriptions.

The April indictment alleged that customers would travel hundreds of miles weekly to visit the clinic and pay $200 per visit for painkillers.

A document filed in federal court says the 69-year-old Chong will plead guilty to illegally acquiring and distributing prescription painkillers. Court filings don't indicate what charges the 56-year-old Dahlsten will plead to.

The indictment says prescriptions were written without meaningful physical exams and contributed to the deaths of at least two patients.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/19/12 @ 7:30 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The owner of three pain clinics and six of the doctors he oversaw have been indicted on federal charges of illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to write prescriptions for powerful pain medications outside the scope of legitimate medical practice, and that their conspiracy resulted in the death of at least one customer.

The 12-count indictment alleges that between January 2009 and June 2011, Tracy Bias, 47, of West Portsmouth, Ohio owned and operated Southern Ohio Complete Pain Management and Portsmouth Medical Solutions in Portsmouth, and Trinity Medical Care in Columbus, Ohio even though he has no known medical education.

He allegedly secured doctors for brief periods of time ranging from one day to several years through what are known as temporary service contracts to prescribe pain medication for customers at his clinics.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says customers traveled hundreds of miles to the clinics in central and southern Ohio.

Once at the clinic, they say customers would pay $200 per office visit and with little or no physical examination, leave with excessive amounts of “cocktails” of controlled substances including diazepam, hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazalam.

Six doctors charged in the indictment are:

Joon H. Chong, 69, Coldwater, Michigan, John Dalhsten, 55, Burlington, Iowa, Mark R. Fantauzzi, 49, unknown, Marcellus Jajuan Gilreath, 49, Cleveland, Ohio, Stephen L. Pierce, 62, Gallup, New Mexico and James E. Lassiter, 58, Findlay, Ohio.

All seven are charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs outside the scope of legitimate medical practice. They face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for that charge alone.

Bias and Chong are charged with distribution of controlled substances that resulted in death. Bias is also charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Both crimes constitutes at least 20 years and up to life in prison.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $6,725,000 representing the proceeds from illegal activities involved at the clinics.

Bias was arrested in Portsmouth on April 18. He is expected to be in federal court in Cincinnati on April 24.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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