Cherlyn "Cookie" Armstrong Convicted of
JULY 27 -- (New Orleans, Louisiana) – William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced criminal convictions and forfeitures in the Scherer’s Pain Management investigation.
“The jury had determined yesterday, as DEA had previously, that illicit pain management clinics, such as Scherer’s, do not practice legitimate medicine, but allowed the distribution of powerful narcotic drugs by traffickers with a medical license,” said Renton.
On April 12, 2005, Special Agents of the DEA, FBI, IRS, New Orleans Police Department (PD), Kenner PD, Slidell PD, St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office (SO), Jefferson Parish SO, Plaquemines Parish SO and St. Tammany Parish SO, culminated a five year investigation with the execution of search warrants at three pain management clinics located in Gretna, Metairie, and Slidell, Louisiana which were owned by Cherlyn “Cookie” ARMSTRONG. Also, arrest warrants were issued for ARMSTRONG, Dr. Suzette CULLINS, Dr. Joseph GUENTHER, and Dr. Betty DELOACH.
ARMSTRONG, CULLINS, GUENTHER, AND DELOACH were subsequently charged with several federal statutes including conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to conduct money laundering to promote the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
On June 7, 2006, Dr. Joseph GUENTHER pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and four felony counts of prescribing narcotics without a legitimate medical reason. GUENTHER stated he prescribed a combination of Lorcet, Xanax, and Soma, known as the “holy trinity” to patients who were either healthy or provided forged medical reports. GUENTHER also admitted to writing prescriptions to individual drug abusers who went from clinic to clinic overlapping prescriptions. On June 21, 2006, Dr. Betty DELOACH pled guilty to misprision of a felony for her involvement in this illegal scheme.
Yesterday, a federal jury convicted Cherlyn “Cookie” ARMSTRONG of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, money laundering, and 23 counts of dispensing narcotics without a medical purpose. Suzette CULLINS was also convicted of conspiracy and five counts of dispensing narcotics without a medical purpose. The same federal jury also found all nine of ARMSTRONG’s corporations in violation of federal money laundering statutes. Today, the jury heard the arguments over the federal forfeiture of millions of dollars ARMSTRONG and members of her family gained through the illegal distribution of narcotics.
SAC Renton, Jr., said, “These convictions should send a message to the extremely small percentage of physicians who violate their Hippocratic Oath and dispense controlled substances for other than medical necessity and instead do harm and violate the laws of the United States and the State of Louisiana”.“The vast majority of physicians do wonderful work and should be commended for their efforts,” added Renton.