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Monday, March 28, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


FAYETTEVILLE TENNESSEE DOCTOR SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY DISPENSING OXYCODONE, DEFRAUDING TENN CARE, AND TAX EVASION

Reissued Corrected Version

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Dr. Samuel Ashby, 62, of Fayetteville, Tenn., was sentenced today in U.S. District Court, Chattanooga, to serve 108 months in prison for illegally dispensing a controlled substance, Oxycodone; defrauding Tenn Care; and attempted tax evasion. Additionally, Ashby was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and serve three years supervised release upon his release from federal prison.

Ashby pleaded guilty to these charges in U.S. District Court, Chattanooga, on November 3, 2010. The charges, guilty plea and today’s sentencing, were all results of a joint investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fayetteville Police Department, of Dr. Ashby’s medical practice in Fayetteville, Tenn., which revealed that 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. Ashby with no medical justification. Agents subsequently obtained 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 Bill 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.

U.S. Attorney Killian commented on the need to correct the initial press release. "Our office always wants to recognize the effort and work put into investigations handled by our office. We neglected to include Lincoln County Sheriff Blackwelder's and Fayetteville Police Chief Carver's assistance in this prosecution in our original release. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department and Fayetteville Police Department were integral parts of the investigation that resulted in the grand jury returning these charges."

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