BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP/WSAZ) -- UPDATE 1/10/19 @ 4 p.m.
A West Virginia doctor has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for participating in a money laundering scheme related to pain pills he prescribed.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement on Thursday that 64-year-old Dr. John Pellegrini of Huntington was sentenced to 87 months and must forfeit $574,507. Pellegrini pleaded guilty last year to the charge in federal court in Beckley in connection with his work at the Hope Clinic.
Prosecutors say he admitted many of the prescriptions he wrote weren't for legitimate medical purposes and that his interactions and exams of patients were brief or nonexistent. Pellegrini also admitted receiving bonuses based on the number of paying customers.
Federal prosecutors have charged numerous doctors, owners and managers associated with Hope Clinic with overprescribing pain pills.
ORIGINAL STORY 4/26/18
A Beckley area physician from Huntington pleaded guilty Thursday to money laundering related to the illegal distribution of Schedule II drugs, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart’s office says.
Dr. John Pellegrini, D.O., 64, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit money laundering related to the promotion of the illegal distribution of Schedule II controlled substances, outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Investigators say Pellegrini admitted to working at the Beckley location of the HOPE Clinic from November 2010 through Oct. 31, 2012. They say he also admitted that many of the prescriptions that he wrote for HOPE Clinic customers were illegal, as they were written outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Some of the them were for monthly opioid prescriptions. Pellegrini also admitted that the clinic manager instructed and encouraged him to write opioid prescriptions and he complied.
Pellegrini also admitted that HOPE Clinic charged customers at least $160 per monthly visit, even when the customer did not see a doctor. Pellegrini admitted that during his work at the HOPE Clinic, he wrote at least 98 prescriptions for controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Pellegrini faces up to 20 years when he is sentenced Aug. 8.