News Release
Date: May 19, 2009
Contact: Rich Isaacson
Number: (313) 234-4310

Michigan Doctor Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Writing
Unauthorized Prescriptions

MAY 19-- Marquette, Michigan - May 19, 2009 - U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis and Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Detroit Field Division, announced today, that on May 12, 2009, Dr. Louis J. Cannella, Jr., age 61, of Menominee, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison,. Chief United States District Judge Paul L. Maloney, who sentenced Dr. Cannella this morning, also ordered the doctor to serve a term of three years on supervised release following his prison term.

In 2006, the DEA, along with Michigan State Police (MSP), the Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (SANE), the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET), and other local law enforcement agencies, launched an on-going cooperative effort to combat the illegal diversion of prescription drugs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is the largest coordinated clean-up of prescription drug violations in the history of the Upper Peninsula. In total, 57 defendants were arrested and prosecuted on a number of state and federal drug distribution charges. Among those charged was Dr. Cannella, a physician who worked in Menominee, Michigan.

A federal grand jury in Marquette indicted Dr. Cannella on July 29, 2008, for multiple violations of the federal Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The indictment alleged that, during an 11 month period from January to November 2006, Dr. Cannella prescribed in an unauthorized manner, Oxycodone, Methadone, Morphine Sulfate, various forms of hydrocodone, and other drugs.

Dr. Cannella ultimately pled guilty to a single count in the indictment that charged that he prescribed 948, ten milligram methadone pills over a 4-month period to treat a patient’s toothache, without referring the patient to a dentist. Because methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance, Dr. Cannella faced up to 20 years in prison on this charge alone.

The investigation of Dr. Cannella also resulted in federal convictions of persons who were selling drugs they had obtained from him. Last July, U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Kim Renae Cummings, age 40, of Marinette, Wisconsin, to 57 months in federal prison for illegal distribution of prescription drugs. In August 2008, Judge Edgar sentenced Susan Lynn Carr, age 27, of Wilson, Michigan, to 24 months in federal prison, and Carr’s sister, Tami Jean Rumfelt, age 23, to 18 months in federal prison. In November 2008, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced Tina Marie Eichhorn, age 35, of Hermansville, Michigan, to 60 months in federal prison. Eichhorn received prescription drugs from Carr and Rumfelt, and re-sold these drugs.

The DEA’s prescription drug initiative in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has included the participation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, MSP, UPSET, SANE, the MSP Forensic Laboratory in Marquette, most of the 15 County Prosecuting Attorney’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Sheriff’s Departments and city police departments across the Upper Peninsula, and multiple law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin.

Dr. Cannella was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat.