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Press Release

Pain Clinic Medical Providers Sentenced for Their Roles in Operating Pill Mills in Tennessee

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Three defendants, all of whom are nurse practitioners, were sentenced to prison for their roles in prescribing massive quantities of opioids from pill mills in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Carrico of the FBI’s Knoxville Field office made the announcement. 

Cynthia Clemons was sentenced to 42 months in prison, Courtney Newman was sentenced to 40 months in prison, and Holli Carmichael Womack was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Clemons and Newman, both of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Womack, of Crossville, Tennessee, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan.  All three defendants were found guilty by a jury on Feb. 13, 2020, of using drug-involved premises for the purposes of distributing opioid narcotics.    

The evidence at trial proved that, collectively, Clemons, Newman, and Womack prescribed millions of tablets of oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine from the pill mills.  All told, the pill mills where these defendants worked generated over $21 million in revenue, with a corresponding street value of $360 million.  The conspiracy involved four separate clinics in Tennessee, each of which the jury determined were drug-involved premises, i.e., pill mills.  The proof at trial established that the vast majority of the patients at these pill mills were addicted to opioids.

This sweeping prosecution, which has resulted in approximately 140 convictions so far, is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS), and the FBI High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), comprised of investigators assigned to the task force by the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Roane County Sheriff’s Office, Harriman Police Department, and Clinton Police Department.  Other agencies provided invaluable assistance, including the Rome Attaché of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, FBI’s liaison in Rome, FBI’s Miami Field Office, the Hollywood, Florida, Police Department, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Knoxville Diversion Group. 

Deputy Chief Attorney Kelly Pearson and Trial Attorney Damare Theriot with OCGS and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Stone prosecuted the case.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated December 10, 2020

Prescription Drugs
Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 20-1340