Investigation Into Out-Of-State ‘Doctor Shopping’ Nets 34 Arrest Warrants

By: Jeff Gould Email
By: Jeff Gould Email

PRESTONSBURG – An ongoing investigation into the illegal purchase of prescription medications has resulted in 34 arrest warrants by Operation UNITE.

Nearly all of cases involved the unlawful procurement of a controlled substance – also known as “doctor shopping” – by fraudulently getting medication from doctors in Kentucky and at least two other states, said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE, adding “several of those being arrested today will likely face drug trafficking charges.”

“Detectives in our Big Sandy Drug Task Force have been working on this case with other agencies since the latter part of 2004,” Smoot said. “The more cases that developed, the larger this investigation grew. Many of these individuals are connected to an ongoing federal investigation by the Kentucky State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration.”

A law enforcement round-up of the UNITE suspects was held Thursday, November 8, in Floyd and Johnson counties.

“Thursday’s enforcement effort will not be the last,” Smoot said. “We expect additional arrests in other counties in the near future.”

UNITE’s cases primarily involved individuals who were obtaining drugs for their own use, noted Iain Dalrymple, manager of the Big Sandy Drug Task Force.

“Our investigation identified approximately 180 people from five counties -- Floyd, Knott, Johnson, Martin and Pike -- who were traveling to either Philadelphia or Ohio for a doctor’s visit,” Dalrymple said. “While there is nothing illegal about seeing an out-of-state doctor, those we’re arresting today would return to Kentucky and visit a local doctor with the same complaints and receive prescriptions for additional pills.”

“Doctors here in Kentucky were actually the victims because they didn’t know these people were seeing another doctor,” Dalrymple said. “These individuals were obtaining between 80 and 200 pills each month.”

Prescriptions for Hydrocodone and Methadone were the most common, although Valium and Xanax pills were also obtained, Smoot said. “More than 50,000 Methadone tablets alone ended up in Eastern Kentucky from Philadelphia.”

Assisting UNITE detectives Thursday were law enforcement officers from the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, Prestonsburg Police Department, City of Martin Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Paintsville Police Department and Kentucky Bureau of Investigation.

As of 3:30 p.m. 18 people had been arrested, including two fugitives from previous roundups, and lodged in either the Floyd County or Johnson County detention centers. They are:

• Bennett Blankenship, age 45, Highway 3380, Teaberry (Floyd County), 2 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Eugene Caudill, age 43, Jacks Creek, Bypro (Floyd County), 8 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Alta Chapman, age 50, Cow Hollow, Drift (Floyd County), 4 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Wayne Collins, age 54, Route 550, Eastern (Floyd County), 1 count unauthorized procurement.

• Larry Goble, age 53, Corn Fork, Prestonsburg (Floyd County), 3 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Jeanette Hoover, age 48, Chaffins Branch, Garrett (Floyd County), 2 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Patsy Hoover, age 35, Goose Creek Road, Eastern (Floyd County), 1 count unauthorized procurement.

• Joey Luster, age 33, Poplar Street, Harold (Floyd County), 3 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Ervin Marsillet Jr., age 57, Otis Hays Branch, Flat Gap (Johnson County), 1 count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and 3 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Jim Marsillett III, age 32, Otis Hays Branch, Flat Gap (Johnson County), 1 count unauthorized procurement.

• Frank Newsome, age 46, Mayo Court, Prestonsburg (Floyd County), 2 counts unauthorized procurement.

• James Osborne, age 43, Highland Avenue, Prestonsburg (Floyd County), 13 counts unauthorized procurement.

• David Ousley, age 42, Pineview Motor Court, Paintsville (Floyd County), 8 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Tracy Patrick, age 36, Floyd County Detention Center, 4 counts unauthorized procurement.

• Gary Slone, age 55, Dotson Lane, Prestonsburg (Floyd County), 1 count unauthorized procurement.

• Michael Turner, age 54, Cow Hollow, Drift (Floyd County), 1 count unauthorized procurement.

Fugitives

• Kevin Coburn, age 23, Caney Fork Road, Martin (Floyd County), 1 count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Douglas Thomas, age 29, Lackey (Floyd County), 1 count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.


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  • by OOHMYBACC Location: HOPKINSVILLE KY on Oct 9, 2008 at 07:26 PM
    I THINK THAT THESES PEOPLE DIDNT FORCE THEIR DOCTORS 2 WRITE THESES MEDS.IF THE DOC GIVES IT WHY NOT TAKE IT!I KNOW ALOT OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE 2 OR 3 DOCS THAT WRITE NARCOTICS TO THEM AND THE DOCTOR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT BEFOREHAND.I SUFFER FROM BAD PAIN AND ON A BAD DAY I CAN TAKE 10-15 LORTABS EASY.SO REALLY 90 OR 120 ISNT ENOUGH FOR 1 MONTH.PLUS EVERYONE KNOWS HOW THE TOLERENCE LEVEL CHANGES OVER TIME SO WHEN THEY GET U STARTED ON THEM THEY SHOULD BE PREPARED TO EITHER UP THE DOSE OR KNOW WE WILL GET 2 DOCTORS.IF U GET CAUGHT SELLING THEM IS ONE THING BUT GOING TO GET MORE MEDS SHOULD BE ON THE DOCS AND OTHER HEALTH CARE FOR EVEN PUTTING US ON THEM.ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY .THE PHARM COMP GETS THEIRS THE DOCS STILL GETS THEIRS THEN THE POLICE GETS THEIRS WHEN THEY BUST YOU.AND WHY DONT THEY EVER TELL ABOUT THE POSITIVE THAT COMES FROM THESE PILLS.IF IT WERE UP 2 ME ID PUT PERCOCET AND LORTAB ON THE SHELF BECAUSE JUST REGULAR TYLENOL CAN KILL U IF YOU OVER USE IT.
  • by trouble3299 Location: Belfry on Apr 15, 2008 at 01:03 PM
    I see so many abuse meds.Young kids.I have had chronic pain for 10 yrs and cannot get addequate treatment for it.It does anger me when this is going on and the truly injured cant get help in their own state.
  • by Joe Location: Floyd Co. on Nov 13, 2007 at 05:10 PM
    Not to mention I know of two people on the above list and both were selling. That is fact..Doctor shopping is easier to track and verify than dealing is. Most everyone in this area knows whats going on. Perscription drug dealing is RAMPANT in eastern,Ky..One of the worst areas in the nation from what I have read. More oxycotin related deaths than almost anywhere...
  • by Joe Location: Floyd Co. on Nov 13, 2007 at 05:00 PM
    No the statement is based on past exp in the justice system. The whole reason doctor shopping is iilegal is because of the selling. You dont live here so you dont know how it is. Im right in the middle of it. Ask most of the other folks on here that are from this area and you'll likely get the same answer. Most doctor shoppers are dealers. Ive known several....
  • by lisa Location: costa on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:48 PM
    People "doctor shop" because drs wont give them enough meds to provide real relief! Just remember, you may be in the same position as these people one day-with chronic pain,and nobody to help you. Instead they will be yelling "Lock em up! Loser! Addict", etc. in YOUR direction. Your self-righteous attitude will come back to bite you in this war on chronic pain. Trust me. All it takes is ONE pharmacist playing cop,and your butt will be in the police blotter for "unauthorized procurement".
  • by Joe Blow Location: Idaho on Nov 13, 2007 at 05:33 AM
    Joe, If that was the case, then why didn't these cops arrest the suspects on selling the drugs rather than just "doctor shopping". They had three years to build a case, so I'm sure if these doctor shoppers were actually selling the drugs they had acquired, they would have been charged with that. So your statement is solely based on your uniformed opinion and not fact.
  • by Joe Location: Floyd Co. on Nov 12, 2007 at 09:09 PM
    Theres a simple reason "Doctor shopping" is illegal. Most every doctor shopper gets way over what they need and they sell the rest. Thats why they call it doctor shopping, because one doctor wont give them enought to sell. They are the reason people with real problems are ashamed to say anything.
  • by Tjordan Location: USA on Nov 10, 2007 at 03:13 PM
    What a pathetic example of exploiting the state's chronic pain sufferers to garner headlines by trying to justify a worthless anti-drug campaign. This is nothing but sheer exploitation of the constitutional rights of individuals seeking their only means of pursuing life, liberty and happiness without suffering in agonizing pain. With all of the real drug problems like meth labs, crack and everything else, you would think there would be enough to keep enforcement busy. But instead, the spineless cowards choose to direct their efforts towards those least physically capable of defending themselves. The task force must be extremely happy with themselves, and you – the media, for your ignorance of the real crisis facing chronic pain sufferers. This witch hunt of yours will no doubt cause a mass exodus of chronic pain sufferers from your state, resulting in millions of dollars a year in tax and investment losses within your local community. I am sure they will have no problem relocating to different states that do not exploit their handicapped and will welcome their tax, employment and investment contributions. In short time, Kentucky will be rid of all those nasty 'criminals' who need a few painkillers each day to lead a semi normal life. Then you can go about your self- righteous lives without the fear that your neighbor took their prescribed dose of medication, while you figure out a way to support your state economy without them. I wonder how many more liberties you will allow your government to take away from you before you realize you have no freedom left at all.
  • by Jed Location: KY on Nov 10, 2007 at 02:49 PM
    What a pathetic example of exploiting the state's chronic pain sufferers to garner headlines and try to justify a worthless campaign. This is nothing but sheer exploitation of the constitutional rights of individuals seeking their only means to pursuit of life, liberty and happiness without suffering in agonizing pain. With all of the real drug problems like meth labs, crack and everything else, you would think there would be enough to keep enforcement busy. But instead, the spineless cowards choose to direct their efforts towards those physically incapable of offering any resistance. I hope they are proud of themselves, and you – the media, for your ignorance of the real crisis facing chronic pain sufferers. This does it for me. Next week I will give notice to my landlord and arrange a job transfer to another state. My family and I pay thousands a year in taxes and invest the rest of our paychecks in to the local economy. I am sure we will have no problem finding a different state that does not exploit their handicapped, who will be happy to accept our financial contributions to the community via taxes and living expenses. In short time, Kentucky will be rid of all those terrible criminals who need a few painkillers each day to live a semi normal life. You can go about your self- righteous lives and figure out a way to support your state economy without us.
  • by Jack Location: Pike County on Nov 10, 2007 at 06:34 AM
    Guess what folks, they've decided not to publish the names of those arrested in PIKE COUNTY. The names have been REPRESSED. Just another example of how the system works here in GOOD-OLE- BOYVILLE.
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