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Chattanooga Pill Mill Owner Sentenced to 44 Years in Prison

OCT 01 (CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) - On Oct. 1, 2015, Faith Blake, 40, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was sentenced to serve 44 years in federal prison by the Honorable Curtis L. Collier, U.S. District Judge. Upon her release from prison, Blake will serve a three year period of supervised release. Additionally, she was ordered to forfeit $2,700,000 to the United States, which represented the gross income generated by her illegal clinics.

Blake pleaded guilty to a federal grand jury indictment charging her with conspiring to distribute prescription drugs outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. She admitted to being involved in two drug conspiracies. One conspiracy involved Superior One Medical Clinic, which she co-owned with her mother Barbara Lang, who was also charged in this case. The other conspiracy involved Elite Care Medical Clinic, which was solely owned by Blake. Blake also pleaded guilty to failing to appear after she was released on conditions of bond and became a fugitive. She was apprehended five months later in Maryland, living under an assumed name.

Three others involved in the operation of the clinics were separately convicted and have been sentenced. Dr. Jerome Sherard, the medical director for Superior One and Elite Care, was sentenced to serve five years in prison. Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner who worked at Superior One and co-defendant Barbara Lang’s clinic, Primary Care, received a 13 year prison sentence. Barbara Lang, Blake’s mother, was convicted after trial of several offenses including drug conspiracies involving Superior One and Primary Care. She was sentenced to serve 280 years in prison. Over $500,000 in seized assets were forfeited as part of their sentences.
             
Blake’s clinics distributed over 28 kilograms of oxycodone (or almost 1,000,000 tables of Oxycodone 30mg pills) to thousands of individuals, many of whom illegally abused the drugs and redistributed them to others. Oxycodone pills are typically sold on the street for $1 per milligram. The clinics catered to pill-seeking individuals from the Southeastern United States.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Collier noted that prescription pill abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. He remarked that Blake’s substantial sentence was intended to deter others from engaging in this illegal activity and to keep her from ever committing this type of crime in the future. Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “DEA and its law enforcement counterparts will continue to target and crack down on pill mill operators who distribute pain medications for non-medical reasons. The success of this investigation is a direct result of the hard work and dedication put forth by our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts.”

“The substantial sentences ordered for these individuals will act as a deterrent for others who may be considering the illegal selling of highly addictive opioids. The defendants’ use of the medical training of others to effectuate this criminal scheme was particularly reprehensible. The public should be aware that federal law enforcement officials, in conjunction with the state and local authorities, are focusing on these illegal opioid transactions,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

“Illegally prescribing narcotics for profit is a serious offense,” stated Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing should send a message to operators of these illegal pill mills that this activity will be investigated and prosecuted. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to stop the flow of these illegal drugs into our communities.”

Law enforcement agencies participating in this joint investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Trustee’s office, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Chattanooga Police Department, Roane County Sheriff’s Department, and Rockwood Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg L. Sullivan and Michael D. Porter represented the United States at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Stone prosecuted other individuals involved in the drug conspiracies.

The DEA 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.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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