Two Pain Management Doctors Sentenced In Federal Court
APR 12 -- (NEW ORLEANS) - Dr. Joseph F. Guenther, 73, and Dr. Betty DeLoach, 68, who worked with Cherlyn Cookie R. Armstrong-Prejean, the owner and operator of three pain management clinics (Scherer’s Clinics) and two pharmacies (Mia’s Pharmacies), were sentenced by United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon today.
Guenther was sentenced by Judge Fallon to ten months imprisonment with the Bureau of Prisons, to be followed by six months of home detention with electronic monitoring for his conviction for conspiracy to illegally dispense controlled substances and four counts of illegally dispensing controlled substances. In addition to the term of imprisonment and home detention, Judge Fallon imposed a $40,000 fine and three years of supervised release. During the term of supervised release, the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should he violate any terms of his supervised release.
DeLoach was sentenced by Judge Fallon to six months imprisonment with the Bureau of Prisons, for her conviction for misprision of a felony. In addition to the term of imprisonment, Judge Fallon imposed a $5,000 fine and one year of supervised release. During the term of supervised release, the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should she violate any terms of her supervised release.
“As Judge Fallon stated when Guenther and DeLoach were sentenced, physicians have a special place in our society and it is appalling when a physician violates their Hippocratic oath,” said DEA Special Agent in Chare William Renton. “This was the largest distribution organization of highly addictive prescription drugs in the metro area and, through the willing participation of these physicians, Armstrong was able to continue and expand her illegal distribution empire. These clinics were responsible for extensive drug abuse, multiple deaths from overdoses and mental illnesses.”
Guenther entered a plea of guilty on June 7, 2006, as charged to one count of conspiracy to illegally dispense Schedule III and IV controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, and to four (4) counts of illegal dispensing controlled substances in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841. As part of his plea, Guenther agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of Armstrong and her co-defendants.
DeLoach entered a plea of guilty as charged in a one count bill of information filed June 14, 2006, to one count of misprision of a felony in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571.
Their co-defendants, Cherlyn Cookie Armstrong-Prejean and Dr. Suzette Cullins, were found guilty on July 25, 2006, by a federal jury after a three week trial and each were sentenced to five years in prison.
U. S. Attorney Jim Letten added, “Guenther and DeLoach, like Armstrong and Cullins, were sentenced in federal court to prison terms today because they not only violated the trust of their patients and the laws of their United States, but they wantonly distributed and prescribed drugs without medical necessity, and traded on the misery of the individuals whose addictions they created and fueled. We will relentlessly pursue them and people like them who are the functional equivalent of street corner drug dealers, and who through their contact with patients pose as much of a threat to society as these drug dealers.”
The DEA, working closely with the federal, state and local law enforcement including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, Louisiana State Medical Board, Sheriff’s Offices from St. Bernard, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Terrebonne and St. Tammany and Police Departments in New Orleans, Kenner and Slidell, were involved in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys, Tony Gordon Sanders, William Quinlan, Jr., and Bill McSherry.