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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -Dr. Samuel Ashby, 62, of Fayetteville, Tenn., pleaded guilty Nov. 3, 2010, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to illegally dispensing a controlled substance, Oxycodone; defrauding Tenn Care; and attempted tax evasion.

Sentencing has been set for Mar 21, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., in United States District Court in Chattanooga. Dr. Ashby faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $1 million dollar fine for illegal distribution of a controlled substance; a maximum of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for health care fraud; and a maximum of five years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine for tax evasion.

The prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Dr. Ashby’s medical practice in Fayetteville, Tenn. For the last several years, Dr. Ashby operated a cash-only practice with no staff. The investigation was launched in response to numerous complaints received by the TBI, that Dr. Ashby was running what amounted to a “pill mill.” The investigation confirmed that individuals could obtain powerful pain medication, such as oxycodone (a synthetic heroin), from Dr. Ashbywith no medical justification. Agents subsequentlyobtained and executed a search warrant at Dr. Ashby’s office, where they found the medical records of his “patients” to be incomplete and in utter chaos.

An expert in pain management reviewed some of the patient files and found woefully inadequate medical histories and medical examinations to support Dr. Ashby’s prescriptions. Dr. Ashby routinely prescribed powerful controlled substances far outside the bounds of professional practice and without medical justification. One such prescription is that charged in Count 1 of the information for Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, written to a patient with the initials T.G. in September, 2007.

As a result of writing prescriptions which were medically unjustified, Dr. Ashby caused patients on Tenn Care to have them filled at pharmacies. As a result, the Tenn Care system was defrauded.

By dealing in cash and cash equivalents exclusively, Dr. Ashby willfully attempted to evade and defeat the payments of income taxes due to the United States for calendar years 2000, 2002, and 2003 in the amounts of $2,753, $36,750, and $37,357, respectively. His cash-only practice intentionally attempted to conceal from the IRS the nature, sources, and extent of his income and assets.

According to U.S. Attorney William C. Killian, “This case demonstrates our office’s commitment to addressing the ever-growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Increasingly we are finding unscrupulous health care professionals involved in illegally distributing drugs. When a doctor steps outside the bounds of professional practice and prescribes narcotics without medical justification, he or she becomes simply a drug dealer. The United States Attorney’s Office will take swift and decisive action against those who illegally put addictive drugs on the streets. In this case, the drug dealer’s conduct was even more egregious, since taxpayers were defrauded to pay for the drugs he distributed.”

Assistant United States Attorney John MacCoon represented the United States.

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