22 charged in eastern Ky. prescription drug cases

By Kristen Kennedy | 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - WKYT is tracking federal indictments that accuse close to two dozen people of running pill mills in Kentucky. Some of the doctors and pain clinic owners charged live as far away as Florida and Texas. The U.S. Attorney says this is a major step to taking down pill mills in Kentucky.

There are five indictments in all. Twenty two people are being charged with offenses somehow related to money laundering, health care fraud, and prescription drugs. Five pain clinic owners and six doctors are among the 22 now being charged with illegally distributing prescription drugs to people in the Commonwealth.

"You have a facility that's denoted as a medical clinic, but it's not really a medical clinic. It really just is a facade for pushing drugs," explains U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey, "the physicians simply become drug pushers in a lab coat."

Harvey says the cases involve a Texas doctor and Florida pain clinic, and stretch from Pike County up to Boyd County. He says the Houston doctor faxed prescriptions to a pharmacy in Pikeville so patients could pick them up on their way home. Harvey says the Florida pain clinic owner conspired with a doctor to illegally dispense prescriptions to patients in Boyd, Greenup and Lawrence Counties.

"We've certainly seen in the last several years a spike in prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. As that problem has worsened in Kentucky and we've seen many of our communities just absolutely ravaged by prescription drug abuse, law enforcement has coalesced and come together in very effective ways to combat that problem."

Each person indicted could face up to twenty years in prison. The U.S. Attorney says those sentences could be upgraded to life in prison if any deaths resulted from the trafficking.

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