Owner of Pain Clinics Sentenced in Kentucky to 15 Years for Money Laundering and Pill Conspiracies
Sentencing is the First of its Kind in Kentucky at the Federal Level
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 03, 2012|
LEXINGTON, KY—An out of state pain clinic owner who instructed his employees to recruit residents of Kentucky to visit his Pennsylvania and Ohio clinics to unlawfully receive tens of thousands of prescription drugs was sentenced today to 15 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced Michael Leman, 46, of Louisiana, and the two pain clinics he controlled, Urgent Care Philadelphia and Urgent Care Cincinnati, for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder funds.
Leman was also ordered to pay $1 million in community restitution. Judge Van Tatenhove imposed a $25,000 fine for each of Leman’s pain clinics. In addition, both clinics received a special assessment fee of $800 and one year of probation.
A jury found both Leman and the clinics guilty of the charges in March of this year.
Today’s court proceeding represents Kentucky’s first sentence of an out of state pain clinic owner involved in a conspiracy to illegally dispense pills to residents of Kentucky.
“Mr. Leman essentially traded in human misery for profit. He must now pay a steep price for his criminal conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. “A similar fate awaits others who illegally distribute prescription narcotics. Those tempted by the lure of ill-gotten profits from pill trafficking should take heed. Our trial team and law enforcement partners who brought Mr. Leman to justice are to be congratulated for striking a hard blow in the fight against prescription narcotic abuse.”
“Leman turned his patients into addicts and facilitated others in drug dealing, lining his own pockets with the ill-gotten cash proceeds,” said Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky. “Prescription pain medication abuse is one of the fastest growing illegal drug problems in the commonwealth. The FBI is committed to working with our other state, local, and other federal law enforcement partners and prosecutors throughout Kentucky to help stop it.”
“This case represents the initiatives of Governor Beshear and the Kentucky State Police (KSP)’s commitment to Kentuckians in our efforts to fight the prescription pain pill issue,” said KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “We will seek out, investigate, and prosecute any physician that is contributing to the illegal usage of prescription narcotics.”
According to evidence presented at the March trial, Leman conspired from December of 2004 until January of 2008 with two doctors and other clinic officials to distribute oxycodone and methadone to hundreds of Kentucky residents from Pike and Floyd Counties. Court records indicate that approximately 90 percent of the patients who visited Leman’s Philadelphia and Cincinnati clinics were from eastern Kentucky. The clinics took in a combined $1.2 million in cash over a 26-month period.
Testimony revealed that Leman instructed clinic officials to actively recruit Kentucky patients to travel to Urgent Care in Philadelphia and Cincinnati for prescription drugs. The two pain clinics didn’t possess X-ray machines, MRI equipment, or the ability to cast broken bones.
Evidence also proved that three of the doctors Leman hired to work at the clinics were previously unemployed, had criminal histories, and had at one time lost their license to practice medicine in other states. He paid these doctors $3,000 a week with additional monetary incentives if the clinic’s revenue exceeded $10,000 for the week.
At Leman’s direction, the four doctors he employed accepted cash as the only method of payment and charged residents of Kentucky $400 per visit, more than two and half times the amount in-state patients paid. The doctors typically wrote prescriptions for large amounts of 40 mg Methadone tablets and Oxycodone.
When the doctors and other clinic employees voiced concerns about the high volume of Kentucky patients visiting the clinic and the amount of medication that was being prescribed, Leman threatened to fire them.
All other members of the conspiracy have pleaded guilty. Previously, former Philadelphia doctor Randy Weiss and former Cincinnati doctor Stanley Naramore both received four years in prison. Recently, Urgent Care’s CEO Stephen Lyon received 18 months in prison for money laundering and physician assistant Tonia Snook was sentenced to 12 months and a day for distributing narcotics. Approximately 40 people from eastern Kentucky have been convicted and sentenced for illegally obtaining narcotics from Leman’s Philadelphia and Cincinnati pain clinics.
Under federal law, Leman must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence.
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Perrye Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI; and Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police Commissioner, jointly announced sentence today.
The investigation was conducted by KSP and the FBI. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West.