ATLANTA, GA. - Jason Cole Votrobek, 27, of Vero Beach Florida; Jesse Violante, 32, of Vero Beach, Florida; Roland Rafael Castellanos, 32, of Cartersville, Georgia; Tara Atkins, 33, of Cartersville, Georgia; and Dr. James Chapman, 61, of Macon, Georgia, were indicted and arrested on federal drug and money laundering charges for their respective roles in operating a so-called “pill mill” pain clinic which served as a front for the illegal distribution of addictive pain killers.
John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA's Atlanta Field Division (AFD) said, “The dispensing of addictive prescription pain medication under the guise of a doctor's care, as occurred in this investigation, is not about the good of the community or an individual's specific health needs; it is about greed and those involved in “pill mill” activity are in fact drug dealers.”
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today's arrests, “The abuse of pain medication has become epidemic and now accounts for more deaths in Georgia than all of the traditional illegal drugs combined. As the problems caused by prescription drug abuse becomes a focus for many of the communities in our district, our drug prosecutors also are focusing on the primary sources of these dangerous drugs in our state.”
Atlanta IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael McDaniel said, “The indictment of these individuals puts a spotlight on organizations that illegally distribute drugs as well as the exemplary coordination among law enforcement, which leads to breaking up these organizations. Our goal is to stop criminal enterprises that profit from the illegal trade of dangerous narcotics and take away any financial benefit they receive from their criminal activity.”
Atlanta FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin, said, “The FBI, through its Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force, in initiating this investigation in conjunction with the GBI and the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, is pleased with its role in the successful outcome of this case. Through joint efforts such as this, the community in which we serve benefits while sending a clear message to those that would exploit the addictions of others."
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said, “The Bartow/Cartersville Drug Task Force and all other agencies involved have been working diligently to stop this type of illegal drug activity. We want to send a message that we will not stand for any type of drug dealers in this county. Whether it be prescription drugs, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, or any other illegal drug, we will exhaust all our law enforcement resources to stop you.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment, and information presented in court: In May 2010, working from information from the FBI/ Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bartow County Sheriff's Office, as well as agents for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), expanded an investigation of “Atlanta Medical Group,” after learning that the clinic, located at 16 Collins Drive, Cartersville, Georgia, was prescribing pain pills outside the bounds of legitimate medical practice.
The investigation revealed that Votrobek, Violante, and Castellanos financed and operated the clinic. Atkins served as the office manager. Chapman served as the primary doctor. The indictment charges that in their respective capacities, they worked to procure and distribute Oxycodone pills to addicts and illegitimate distributors. The clinic's doctor was directed by the owners and managers to see as many patients as possible, in order to generate substantial profits through the sale of pills, which were largely dispensed on site. Chapman allegedly did so, however, without conducting sufficient medical examinations. The indictment alleges that on least one occasion, Atkins facilitated the filling of prescriptions when the doctor was unable to do so himself. In addition, the amounts of pills distributed to patients were excessive, and with unusual dosage patterns.
The indictment charges that the clinic was really a drug distribution operation with an extremely high volume of patients visiting from surrounding states. Many of those visiting had apparent signs of being addicts. The clinic allegedly engaged in unusual practices, including permitting non-medical staff to assist with medical procedures, including taking blood pressure, to maximize the number of patients to be seen. The defendants allegedly made millions of dollars during the clinic's approximately one year of operation. The indictment charges that the defendants established multiple bank accounts, many in third-party names, to conceal the windfall profits.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bartow County Sheriff's Office, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. This case was initiated by the FBI/ Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force.
Assistant United States Attorneys G. Scott Hulsey and Cassandra Schansman prosecuted the case.DEA AFD’s Acting SAC John S. Comer encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.