February 23, 2018
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (504) 840-1363
Medical Doctor Surrenders License As DEA Executes Search And Seizure Warrants On Pain Clinic
Over 1.5 million dollars in assets seized
NEW ORLEANS - The DEA and our law enforcement partners announced today an exceptional enforcement action against a local doctor and pain clinic owner in an effort to help reverse the horrible effects produced by the diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs.
This over four-year long investigation was led by the DEA New Orleans Field Division’(NOFD) Tactical Diversion (TDS) and utilized intelligence data, undercover operatives, information provided by state and local law enforcement and complaints made by citizens to identify Dr. Wayne J. Celestine and others involved at Integrity Pain Management (IPMC) in prescribing, obtaining and distributing dangerous and addictive controlled substances.
“One of the most significant challenges law enforcement faces today is the alarming increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers. Almost four million Americans are addicted to prescription painkillers and over 42,000 people died of an opioid overdose in 2016. To have a medical professional, who is bound by an oath to adhere to the highest moral, ethical, and legal principles and fully aware of the power of these controlled substances abusing his privileges, is a total betrayal of his profession. The teamwork at all levels of law enforcement - local, state and federal - was instrumental in this investigation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto stated, “I am proud of the work our detectives have done on this case in concert with our partners at DEA. Prescription drug abuse causes a significant number of overdoses every year, and we will take every opportunity we can get to stem the flow of these drugs into our communities.”
During November 2013, NOFD TDS agents initiated an investigation into Dr. Celestine’s organizations’ illegal distribution of controlled substances at IPMC, 525 Commerce St., Gretna, Louisiana. IPMC is a pain clinic owned and operated by Dr. Celestine, the sole practitioner of the clinic. TDS agents received financial information into the possible money structuring being conducted at financial institutions by Dr. Celestine. The information indicated that large cash deposits between the period of January 2012 and November 2012 totaling the amount of $414,292.00 had the appearance that the money was being structured to circumvent federal reporting requirements for currency transactions. Additionally, TDS agents learned Dr. Celestine collected only cash for the clinic visits. Further investigation into Dr. Celestine’s organization revealed large quantities of federally controlled substances were being prescribed by Dr. Celestine from IPMC. Based on this information, TDS agents began undercover operations into IPMC. Additionally, TDS agents initiated undercover buys from patients of IPMC.
The organization continues to be managed by Dr. Celestine, who is the only prescribing physician and owner of IPMC. TDS agents conducted several confidential (CS) buys from IPMC during the period of December 2013 through August 2016. During the CS buys, the CSs were prescribed controlled substances by Dr. Celestine, for no medical reason and outside the course of a legitimate medical practice. An (UC) TDS agent also successfully obtained a prescription intended for a CS without IPMC or the CS confirming that the UC was to pick up the prescription. Dr. Celestine has been identified by multiple agencies in Louisiana as operating a suspected 'pill mill' where patients will travel up to three hours to be seen by Dr. Celestine at IPMC. Patients have been observed on multiple occasions lining up outside of the clinic to sign in for their visit and selling or obtaining prescriptions from individuals seen by Dr. Celestine in the IPMC parking lot and waiting room. Dr.
Celestine and IPMC run a largely cash business, only recently accepting money orders and credit/debit payments for patient visits. From 2008 to 2018, Dr. Celestine has earned approximately $13,830,575 from his pill mill operation.
On February 22, 2018, federal search and seizure warrants were executed on four locations in the New Orleans, Louisiana area. The locations were the following: IPMC, 525 Commerce St, Gretna, LA, and three residences, 91 English Turn Ct., New Orleans, LA, 36 Seven Oaks Rd, Marrero, LA, and 20415 Military Heights Rd., Covington, LA, all associated with Dr. Celestine. Also seized were Dr.
Celestine’s bank accounts, vehicles and other assets, totaling a value of approximately $1.5 million dollars.
The case was investigated by the DEA, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Harahan Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, Louisiana State Police, New Orleans Police Department, Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, Saint Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office, and the Westwego Police Department.