Grand Jury Indicts Eight in Drug, Healthcare Conspiracy
AUG 5 -- (NEW ORLEANS) - CANDACE WILSON, a/k/a, Candace Dobbins, age 35, a resident of Baton Rouge; Louisiana; PLES DOBBINS, age 40,a resident of Clayton, Louisiana; THADRIAN JOHNSON, Age 47, a resident of Hahnville, Louisiana; MONICA JONES, age 38,a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; JOSEPH BRAUD, M.D., age 81, a resident of Lafayette, Louisiana; DESHAWN WHATLEY, age 29, a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; JIMMIE LEE WINTERS, a/k/a, Pork Chop, a/k/a, Pork, age 28, and JOSHUA WILLIAMS, a/k/a Lil One, age 23, were charged in a seventeen-count indictment by a Federal Grand Jury with conspiracy to distribute and dispense Oxycodone, MS Contin, Methodone, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, Diazepam, and Promethazine with Codeine, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
Additionally, DOBBINS, JOHNSON, WINTERS, and WILLIAMS are charged with distribution of controlled substances including Ecstasy, Hydrocodone, Methadone and Oxycontin.
WILSON, JONES, WHATLEY and WILLIAMS are also charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud by making false and fraudulent claims, and causing pharmacies to make false and fraudulent claims to be made to Medicaid.
Further, WILSON, DOBBINS and JONES are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
All eight defendants have been subject to forfeiture allegations as a result of the drug conspiracy; WILSON, JONES, WHATLEY and WILLIAMS are subject to health care fraud forfeiture allegations; and WILSON, DOBBINS and JONES are subject to money laundering forfeiture allegations.
According to the Indictment, prior to January 2003, and continuing until on or about August 1, 2008, CANDACE WILSON and MONICA JONES organized and managed companies which operated pain management clinics, including Stanton Trinity Urgent Care, Inc. in New Orleans, Maximum Urgent Care, LLC in Lafayette, and Reddi Care Ambulatory Clinic, LLC in Baton Rouge. WILSON, DOBBINS, JOHNSON and JONES also organized and managed Southern Discount Drugs, LLC, a pharmacy in New Orleans, Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina.
The indictment alleges that individuals at the clinics ostensibly offered patients “pain management” by writing prescriptions that were not for legitimate medical purposes, and which were not within the bounds of professional medical practice. It is further alleged that in some instances, WILSON, DOBBINS, JOHNSON, JONES, WHATLEY, WINTERS, and WILLIAMS also distributed controlled substances and prescriptions for controlled substances without the recipients ever seeing a doctor.
According to the indictment, the proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking and healthcare fraud operation were laundered and used to purchase assets such as real property and luxury automobiles by CANDACE WILSON, PLES DOBBINS and MONICA JONES. Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service have seized over $800,000 in U. S. currency from the defendants and are also seeking to forfeit a 2006 Mercedes Benz CLS 500C, a 2006 Lexus LS350, a 2006 BMW 650I and real property in New Orleans and Clayton, Louisiana.
If convicted on the conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances count (Count 1) , each of the defendants faces a maximum of twenty (20) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million. As to each distribution count, if convicted, DOBBINS, JOHNSON, WINTERS, and WILLIAMS each face a maximum of twenty (20) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million.
If WILSON, JONES, WHATLEY and WILLIAMS are convicted of the conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, each will face up to ten (10) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
If convicted of the conspiracy to commit money laundering, WILSON, DOBBINS and JONES each face an additional twenty (20) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.
Patrick R. Warner, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA, stated:“Addressing the escalating diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs is a major priority for the Drug Enforcement Administration. This investigation and indictment emphasizes our commitment to combat this serious problem. We will continue to partner with our federal, state, and local counterparts to eliminate these illegitimate "pain management clinics" from our communities. Such establishments are pill mills, nothing but veiled sources of drug supply that fuel the miserable addictions of many, while grossly enriching the few greedy individuals involved in these illegal practices.”
Jim Letten, U. S. Attorney, stated: “The successes of the recent efforts to curb illegal pain management drug distribution led by DEA (including HIDTA), together with our tremendous partners in law enforcement represented here today, have aptly demonstrated the potential danger which are posed by illegally operated pain management clinics through the uncontrolled dispensation of highly regulated pain medication. My gratitude, and the gratitude of all of our citizens, should go out to the dedicated professionals for their outstanding service to the community. We will continue to work together to protect the lives of our citizens.”
Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigations, added: “Today’s indictment shows IRS-Criminal Investigation’s commitment to providing financial investigative expertise to multi-agency task forces to follow the money trail from the crime to the individuals involved.”
This indictment is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation involving the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, together with the Gulfcoast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. Also assisting in the enforcement operations were the U. S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, New Orleans Police Department, Kenner Police Department, Gretna Police Department, Lafayette Police Department, Lafayette Metro Narcotics, and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office. OCDETF is an important program which targets the most significant drug trafficking organizations within the United States, as well as those outside of the United States borders that impact drug trafficking within the United States.
United States Attorney Jim Letten praised the law enforcement team for its relentless and untiring efforts to investigate narcotics trafficking and money laundering in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
An indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.