FEB 27 (SAVANNAH, Ga.) - A federal indictment, unsealed today in federal court, has charged six defendants with conspiracy to traffic oxycodone, hydrocodone and other drugs through a purported pain clinic known as East Health Center, which operated in Garden City, Georgia from February through May of 2011.
The indictment alleges that during the time that East Health Center was open, members of the conspiracy prescribed and caused to be prescribed more than 4 million milligrams of oxycodone without any legitimate medical purpose. During this same period, prescriptions were written for numerous “patients” who lived outside the state of Georgia, including over 130 from Kentucky; over 50 from North Carolina; over 30 from South Carolina; and over 80 from Florida.
Harry S. Sommers, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Field Division (AFD) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), remarked, “The DEA will continue to aggressively investigate those who dispense addictive pain medication under the pretext of a Doctor’s care as those indicted today allegedly have done.”
United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, “During the last two years, we’ve seen a number of pill-mills relocate their unlawful businesses to the State of Georgia. These so-called clinics operate under the guise of a stethoscope and a white coat, and they prey upon their so-called ‘patients.’ Any pill mills that seek to do business in the Southern District of Georgia can expect to be investigated and prosecuted like every other drug trafficking that pushes poison in our communities.”
The indictment results from a joint investigation by the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Chatham Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT), and the United States Marshals Service. Personnel from the Ware County Sheriff’s office assisted in making arrests.
Any defendant found guilty of the drug conspiracy charged in the indictment faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. The money laundering count also charged carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine of $500,000. The United States is also seeking to forfeit various items of personal property involved in the offenses, including $365,000 as the alleged proceeds of the defendants’ drug operation. The indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The six defendants indicted are:
Sean Michael Clark, age 34, Boca Raton, Florida
Adelaida M. Lizama, age 27, Boca Raton, Florida
Daniel John Wise, age 34, Fort Lauderdale, Georgia
Dr. Najam Azmat, age 55, Waycross, Georgia
Candace Anne Carreras, age 25, Boca Raton, Florida
Shelly Lynn Morford, age 31, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Other targets of the investigation have already pled guilty for their role in the East Health Center pill-mill. Adelard LeFrancois, III, 43, of Boca Raton, Florida and Francis J. Barbuscia, 36, of Plantation, Florida, entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore, Jr. on August 3, 2012. Each pled guilty to conspiring to dispense controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose. Konstantinos Afthinos, 32, of Florida pled guilty to misprision of felony on November 5, 2012. On November 7, 2012, Dr. Kenneth Gossett, 51, of Rome Georgia, pleaded guilty to conspiring to dispense controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose.
Assistant United States Attorneys Karl Knoche, Greg Gilluly, and Jeff Buerstatte are prosecuting the case for the Government.SAC Sommers of the DEA AFD 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.