LOS ANGELES – A Texas woman who helped lead an interstate narcotics trafficking ring pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges arising out of an opioid buy-back scheme in which a doctor at a Los Angeles clinic prescribed opioids to putative patients that the clinic bought back and sold on the black market in California and Texas.
Angela Gillespie-Shelton, a.k.a. “Boss Lady” and “Angotti”, 54, of Houston, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
According to her plea agreement, from October 2012 to January 2015, Gillespie-Shelton and her co-conspirators ran Southfork Medical Clinic, located in the Harvard Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the time, Gillespie-Shelton primarily was based in Texas, but she frequently traveled to California.
At the clinic, Gillespie-Shelton’s co-conspirator – Dr. Madhu Garg, 69, of Glendora – saw “patients” and regularly prescribed them narcotics. The drugs included oxycodone and hydrocodone (commonly sold under the brand names Vicodin, Norco and Lortab), alprazolam (best known by the brand name Xanax), carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant sold under the brand name Soma) and promethazine with codeine (a cough syrup sold on the street as “purple drank” and “sizzurp”). After the “patients” filled the prescriptions, Gillespie-Shelton and her co-conspirators bought the drugs from their “patients” and shipped them to Texas, where they were sold on the black market. Gillespie-Shelton’s co-conspirators also stole a physician’s identity to issue falsified prescriptions to obtain additional narcotics.
In Texas, Gillespie-Shelton used two pharmacies that she controlled as a front to sell the drugs shipped from Southfork on the black market. Under Gillespie-Shelton’s control, the pharmacies in Texas also filled false or fraudulent prescriptions and received kickbacks from the fake prescriptions.
Gillespie-Shelton also laundered more than $1 million from the diversion schemes through numerous accounts. She used some of the money to further the narcotics trafficking conspiracy, which included paying rent for the Southfork Clinic and a stash house in Los Angeles, as well as paying Garg more than $200,000 for writing the illegal prescriptions.
Garg pleaded guilty in February 2016 to illegally distributing oxycodone and money laundering, and she served an 18-month prison sentence.
United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt has scheduled an October 1 sentencing hearing, at which time Gillespie-Shelton will face a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison.
The case against Gillespie-Shelton was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Justice, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. This investigation was conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
The prosecution of Gillespie-Shelton is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section.