Northern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office Joins the Partnership at Drugfree.org's 'Medicine Abuse Project'
ATLANTA – The U.S. Attorneys’ Community announced this week that it has joined the Partnership at Drugfree.org to promote its multi-year campaign entitled the ‘Medicine Abuse Project’ which began on Sept. 23, 2012.
The Northern District of Georgia, one of 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, is teaming up with “The Partnership” which aims to curb the abuse of prescription drugs while encouraging parents and the public to take action. A primary focus of the initiative will be to educate communities about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
“Prescription drug abuse is one of the country’s fastest growing problems confronting our youth. Every day, more than 2,000 kids abuse prescription drugs for the first time, which has led to more teens abusing prescription medications than any of the other dangerous illegal drugs – including ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. It is estimated that 1 in 6 teens has used some form of prescription medicine to get high. The danger of this trend is evidenced by one simple fact: Six times more people die from prescription drug abuse than from the use of all other illicit drugs combined. Indeed, more people die in the United States each year from drug overdoses than from car crashes. We urge parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of prescription drug abuse – it could save their lives,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
“We are deeply grateful to the United States Attorneys’ Offices around the nation for joining this collaborative Project to effectively address the intentional abuse of prescription and over-the-counter cough medicine,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “The U.S. Department of Justice has been an active supporter of our innovative community-based prevention programs. Forging new relationships with partners in the federal criminal justice community is a significant strategic step forward as we build a sustained public/private initiative. The influential voice of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will help greatly in educating parents and teens about the significant and largely underestimated risks of medicine abuse.”
In conjunction with the campaign, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia will also be working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to promote their National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Sept. 29, 2012. This will be DEA’s fifth time collecting unused, unneeded, and expired prescription drugs. Tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms will be collected. Intravenous solutions, injectables, and syringes will not be accepted. To date, the agency has received 1.5 million pounds, or 774 tons, of prescription drugs from the public. To find a collection site near you, go to www.dea.gov and click on the “Got Drugs?” link.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is actively involved in investigating and prosecuting prescription drug abuse. Recent prosecutions include the following cases:
- On August 28, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Samuel Davis Mintlow, M.D. and Mark James Del Percio on charges of conspiring, distributing, and dispensing controlled substances for no legitimate medical purpose. Mintlow and Del Percio are alleged to have operated Liberty Wellness, a large scale “pill mill” in Norcross, Georgia that dispensed prescriptions for Schedule II and IV controlled substances. During the investigation of the clinic, on numerous occasions, evidence was obtained showing that the clinic regularly prescribed oxycodone, Opana, Xanax, Percocet and Soma to “patients” for no legitimate medical purpose.
- On June 29, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Jason Votrobek, Jesse Violante, Roland Castellanos, Tara Atkins, and Dr. James Chapman, in connection with the operation of American Medical Group, a “pill mill” being operated in Cartersville, Georgia. The 3 owners, Jason Votrobek, Jesse Violante, and Roland Castellanos, office manager (Tara Atkins), and primary doctor (James Chapman), are alleged to have conspired to distribute without legitimate medical purpose oxycodone to thousands of out-of-state patients, making millions of dollars in profits. Trial currently is scheduled for January 2013.
- On February 1, 2011, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against thirteen individuals in the Northwest Georgia area who conspired to illegally procure oxycodone pills and then re-sell them for profit. Specifically, the organization, headed by Johnny Alvarez, obtained the vast majority of its pills from pharmacies in Florida following visits with doctors there. Pills were then distributed throughout the Southeast, including Northwest Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Investigators determined that the conspiracy was responsible for trafficking hundreds of thousands of Oxycodone pills. All thirteen members of the organization have pleaded guilty and the final defendant will be sentenced in October 2012.
For more information, please visit: www.drugfree.org.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.