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Owner of MRI Machine Used at Opelika “Pill Mill” Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charges

JUL 08 (MONTGOMERY, Ala.) – Ruben Hernandez, 39, of southern Florida, pleaded guilty on Thursday, July 7, 2016 in federal court to charges stemming from his role in the operation of a “pill mill” that existed in Opelika, Alabama between 2012 and 2013, announced Clay Morris, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and George L. Beck, Jr., United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.  A “pill mill” is a medical clinic created to sell prescription drugs unlawfully, illegally, and for no medical reason.

According to court documents, Hernandez was involved with the EMED Medical Management Corporation pill mill.  Hernandez participated in the operation of the pill mill by leasing a mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to the pill mill’s owner—Erik Raul Torres.  With Hernandez’s machine, Torres and others generated MRIs that were then used to support the prescribing of pain medication that was not actually necessary.  In return for allowing Torres to use his machine, Hernandez received a portion of the pill mill’s ill-gotten gain.  Due to those payments, Hernandez was charged with conspiring to launder money. 

Previously, Torres pleaded guilty to drug distribution and money laundering charges.  In addition to Torres and Hernandez, several others have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their involvement in the Opelika pill mill.

A sentencing date for Hernandez has not been set.  At sentencing, Hernandez faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transactions, whichever is greater.

The DEA and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division investigated the case, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Opelika Police Department, Auburn Police Department, and the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. 

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.  

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