Eight Sentenced for Their Role in a Prescription Pill Scheme
MONTGOMERY, AL—Eight individuals have been sentenced for their participation in a scheme to unlawfully obtain prescriptions for Oxycodone from a clinic in Opelika, Alabama, announced U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama. Sentencing for one additional individual is still pending.
The individuals involved in the scheme are as follows: Jean Herby Thelomat (28), of Miami, Florida; Joseph M. McCann (31), of Huntsville, Alabama; Laura Amelia Robinson (46), of Ellerslie, Georgia; Quinton Michael Corbett (28), of Belle Mina, Alabama; Mauricia Adaryll Corbett (35), of Harvest, Alabama; Porcha Donielle Cawthorn (25), of Huntsville, Alabama; Zachary Cornez Lilley (26), of Huntsville, Alabama; Brittney Lashelle McCauley (27), of Toney, Alabama; and James Richard Lawlor (35), of Huntsville, Alabama.
According to the indictment and court documents, Thelomat developed a plan to create fraudulent medical paperwork that would be presented to EMeds Medical Clinic in Opelika, Alabama for Oxycodone prescriptions. The paperwork included fraudulent reports of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) testing results that were designed to appear legitimate, but contained false information with respect to medical conditions and diagnoses.
Thelomat obtained the cooperation of two other individuals to carry out this scheme. Joseph McCann was a patient of the clinic who assisted Thelomat by serving as a “sponsor” that recruited others to pose as patients at the clinic and receive prescriptions. McCann provided these patients with fraudulent medical paperwork that he created with the help of Thelomat. In exchange for the paperwork, the drug-seeking recruits would pay Thelomat and McCann a fee. These recruits would travel hundreds of miles from their known residences in north Alabama to the EMeds clinic in Opelika, Alabama.
Laura Robinson was an employee of EMeds and was responsible for various day-to-day administrative functions, including the responsibility of verifying the legitimacy of paperwork submitted to the clinic by patients. In that capacity, Robinson verified MRI paperwork prepared by McCann and Thelomat even though she knew that the paperwork was fraudulent. Robinson would also advise McCann on modifications that needed to be made to the fraudulent medical paperwork in order to make the documents appear more legitimate and to justify prescriptions for large volumes of Oxycodone. For her participation in this scheme, Robinson was paid a fee per patient, and also received portions of these payments in the form of pills.
The remaining six individuals listed were recruits who posed as patients and utilized fraudulent MRI paperwork at the EMeds clinic to obtain illegitimate and illegal prescriptions.
Of the nine who pled guilty, eight have been sentenced and one is still pending. The sentences are as follows: McCann- 60 months; Thelomat- 57 months; Robinson- 21 months; M. Corbett- 12 months; Q. Corbett- 6 months; Lilley- 6 months; McCauley- four years of probation; and Cawthorn- three years of probation. Lawlor’s sentencing is pending and he faces a maximum sentence of four years.
“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the country. It is particularly troubling to find medical practitioners so complicit in this epidemic,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris. “We trust our medical practitioners to heal our bodies, not poison our communities. We will not tolerate or accept this illegal behavior, and we will bring justice to those that condone this type of practice.”
“This prescription pill scheme highlights the serious epidemic of prescription drug addiction that threatens our communities,” said FBI Mobile Special Agent in Charge Robert F. Lasky. “This addiction results in disastrous consequences affecting every sector of our society—families, employment, and our children’s futures. Those motivated by greed who unlawfully abuse our healthcare system will be tirelessly pursued by the FBI and prosecuted for their crimes.”
“Corruption at any level diminishes the hard work and dedication of the thousands of health care workers who are dedicated to providing services to the American public,” stated Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “IRS-CI stands committed to weed out individuals who ignore the public’s well-being and choose to take the path to financial success by using greed and corruption. We are proud to contribute our financial expertise in an effort to halt the illegal sale and distribution of prescription drugs.”
“Prescription drug abuse is a rising problem in Alabama,” said ALEA’s State Bureau of Investigations Director Gene Wiggins. “Over the past several months ALEA has teamed with our federal and local partners to combat this problem and we are committed to continuing this effort.”
“The over-prescription and excessive use of pain medications can lead to a dangerous cycle of addiction,” stated U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. “Whether accomplished by the use of fraud, or by the reckless actions of medical providers, too often this cycle leads to overdose and death. My office will continue to work with our partners to prevent these unscrupulous individuals from peddling pills and endangering the public. However, the responsibility of breaking this dangerous cycle of addiction lies not only with law enforcement, but the entire medical community. From the drug manufacturers, to the clinics, to the pharmacies, we all have a duty to safeguard the public from this epidemic.”
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) in Montgomery, the Opelika Police Department, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gray Borden, Brandon Essig, and Bob Anderson.