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ATLANTA NEWS

Anesthesiologist Sentenced for Illegally Prescribing Oxycodone and Other Prescription Painkillers

FEB 23 (ATLANTA) – Dr. Romie Earl Roland has been sentenced to ten years and ten months for conspiring to distribute Schedule II controlled substances by illegally prescribing prescription painkillers for no legitimate medical purpose. 

Also indicted and sentenced for their respective roles in the operation of the pain clinic were seven other co-defendants: Anthony Licata, Charlyn Carter, Adrian Singletary, Dante Cummings, Anthony Ferguson, Danny Thompson and Joshua Gadd.  Each co-defendant previously pleaded guilty and has been sentenced.

Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “It is a sad commentary when a trusted person in the medical community hides behind the veil of legitimacy to commit criminal acts. In addition, owners and operators of pill mills spin a broad web of deception, reeling in casts of thousands who are addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. Because of unified law enforcement cooperation, these individuals will spend well-deserved time in prison.”

“Physicians, like Roland, take an oath to do no harm, but he ignored his responsibility when he joined with a corrupt clinic owner to make money by selling prescriptions to drug seekers,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “Roland only helped to fuel the opiate crisis that plagues our community.”

 “Persons who operate pill mills in the Northern District of Georgia can expect to be investigated, prosecuted, and sent to prison in the same way as other drug traffickers who push poison in our communities,” stated Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The prescriptions obtained from these types of pill mill clinics are most often sold or diverted on the streets, feeding pain pill addictions and ruining families and lives. Our agents will continue to provide their expertise in narcotics cases by investigating money laundering, which was crucial to the prosecution of these defendants.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court:  In late 2012, agents with a special unit within the Drug Enforcement Administration tasked with combating the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, began an investigation into suspicious activity at the Express Health Center clinic in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta.  The investigation revealed that Anthony Licata was the principal owner of the clinic and was directly involved in its operation.  Licata came to Atlanta for the sole purpose of operating a pill mill. Charlyn Carter was the clinic’s office manager, and would oversee the clinic’s operations when Licata was away.  Adrian Singletary was a security guard at the clinic, and he would also assist with patient triage. 

While open only two days a week, the clinic serviced an inordinate number of people, most having traveled from out-of-state.  Several physicians were associated with this clinic but it was most profitable during Dr. Roland’s tenure.  Through the investigation, agents determined that many of Roland’s patients were drug dealers, drug abusers, or both.  For at least eight months, Roland prescribed oxycodone, methadone, and Percocet outside the course of professional practice and for no legitimate purpose. Roland failed to fulfill a doctor’s basic obligations to conduct physical examinations of patients and verify patient medical histories. 

Dante Cummings, Anthony Ferguson, Danny Thompson, and Joshua Gadd “sponsored” a number of different patients’ visits to the clinic.  Specifically, they would contact the clinic and schedule visits for multiple patients.  These defendants would supervise the visits, financing the costs of both seeing the doctor as well as filling the prescriptions.  The goal of this sponsorship was to procure multiple prescriptions for controlled substances; the prescriptions were then filled, and the narcotics sold for a profit.  The majority of the “patients” that were sponsored by these defendants were not actually suffering chronic pain.  Instead, these individuals were often addicted to opioids, but received new prescriptions nonetheless.

Over the course of the conspiracy, the clinic moved locations throughout the Atlanta area.  Roland was a prescribing physician at each spot: Express Health Center in Buckhead, ATL Pain Institute in Doraville, and Key Pain Center in Lawrenceville.  Roland also worked at a separate clinic: Atlanta Pain & Rehabilitation in Southwest Atlanta.

Romie Earl Roland, 57, of Atlanta, Georgia was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, to ten years, ten months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  All of Roland’s co-defendants entered guilty pleas and were sentenced before Judge Jones for their respective roles, as follows:

  • Anthony Bernard Licata II, 31, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, one count of Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises, and one count of Conspiracy to Launder Drug Proceeds.  On January 25, 2016, Mr. Licata was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison and a $25,000 fine, to be followed by three years of supervised release. 
  • Charlyn Elizabeth Carter, 44, Austell, Georgia, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, and one count of Conspiracy Launder Drug Proceeds.  On January 25, 2016, Carter was sentenced to six years, six months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Adrian Ulysses Singletary, 44, of Atlanta, Georgia, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.  On January 25, 2016, Singletary was sentenced to three years, ten months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Dante Craig Cummings, 28, of Ellenwood, Georgia, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.  On January 25, 2016, Cummings was sentenced to four years, eight months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Danny Ray Thompson, 47, of Happy, Kentucky, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.  On January 25, 2016, Thompson was sentenced to five years, one month in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Anthony Wayne Ferguson, 48, of Owingsville, Kentucky, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.  On February 22, 2016, Ferguson was sentenced to seven years, eight months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Joshua James Gadd, 40, of Atlanta, Georgia, entered a guilty plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.  On September 13, 2016, Gadd was sentenced to five years, six months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

The investigation and prosecution of this case was a coordinated effort led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program, along with assistance from multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including: the U.S. Marshal Service, Fayette County Sheriff's Office, Clayton County Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Revenue, Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Atlanta Police Department, Jonesboro Police Department, Johns Creek Police Department, Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Kentucky State Police, Georgia Drugs and Narcotics, Georgia Composite Medical Board, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida also assisted with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys C. Brock Brockington, Cassandra J. Schansman, and Michael J. Brown, prosecuted the case.

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. Also follow DEA Atlanta via Twitter at @DEAATLANTADiv

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