Nineteen Individuals Indicted In $41 Million Illegal Opioid Distribution Conspiracy
A Clinic Owner, Four Doctors, Two Nurse Practitioners and Three Pharmacists among Those Indicted
An indictment was unsealed today charging nineteen individuals with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.
U.S. Attorney Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
The 44-count indictment charges defendants with an alleged drug conspiracy involving prescription drug controlled substances including Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Oxycodone-Acetaminophen (Percocet), Hydrocodone, Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, promethazine with codeine cough syrup, and other drugs.
Charged in the indictment are:
John Henry Rankin, III, 46, Detroit,
Dr. Beth Carter, 56, Southfield,
Dr. Robert Kenewell, 52, Auburn Hills,
Dr. Jason Brunt, 50, Clawson,
Dr. John Swan, 30, St. Clair Shores,
Nurse Practitioner, Jean Pinkard, 63, Farmington Hills
Nurse Practitioner Toni Green, 58, St. Clair Shores,
Fitzgerald Hudson, 60, Southfield,
Virendra Gaidhane, 49, Troy
Pharmacist, Maksudali Saiyad, 65, Troy
Pharmacist Adeniyi Adepoju, 61, Warren,
Pharmacist Ali Sabbagh, 36, Dearborn Heights
Robert King, 38, Taylor,
Jermaine Hamblin, 36, Roseville,
Sonya Mitchell, 50, Southfield,
Lavar Carter, 56, Southfield,
Robert Lee Dower, Jr., 49, Eastpointe
Denise Sailes, 51, Detroit, and
Dewayne Bason, 28, Detroit
The indictment alleges that from September 2017 through June 2020, John Henry Rankin, III, owner of New Vision Rehab and Preferred Rehab clinics would provide monetary remuneration and other illegal benefits to Dr. Beth Carter, Dr. Robert Kenewell, Dr. Jason Brunt, Dr. John Swan, Nurse Practitioner Jean Pinkard and Nurse Practitioner Toni Green to induce them to write prescriptions for “fake” patients, who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. Rankin also allegedly provided monetary remuneration to an unlicensed medical professional, who was not legally authorized to prescribe controlled substances or practice as doctor, who would pose as a doctor and issue pre-signed controlled substance prescriptions in the names of other providers.
It is alleged that the medical professionals named in the indictment prescribed more than 1,951,148 dosage units of Schedule II controlled substances. The prescribed Oxycodone and Oxymorphone, alone, carried a conservative street value of more than $41 million. Oxycodone and Oxymorphone are two of the most addictive opioids and they have high street value. Patients were recruited into the conspiracy by patient recruiters or “marketers,” to include Robert King and Jermaine Hamblin.
The indictment further alleges that during this conspiracy, prescriptions were presented to Detroit New Hope Pharmacy (owner Virendra Gaidhane, pharmacist Maksudali Saiyad, pharmacy tech Dewayne Bason), Synergy Pharmacy (pharmacy technician Dewayne Bason), Nottingham Pharmacy (owner Virendra Gaidhane), Crownz Medical Pharmacy (pharmacist Adeniyi Adepoju), Franklin Healthmart (pharmacist Ali Sabbagh). Some of the pharmacists would bill insurers, including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers, for dispensing the medications, despite the fact that the medications were medically unnecessary. Other times, the pharmacists accepted cash from the recruiters for filling and dispensing medications.
According to the indictment, the pharmacies dispensed more than 58,725 dosage units of Schedule II controlled substances prescribed by the medical professionals listed in the indictment.
“Prescription drugs are supposed to go to people who truly need them, not to fake patients or people selling drugs on the streets,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “We are focusing on charging doctors, pharmacists, and the networks that add to the opioid crisis, and this case is unfortunately yet another example of the serious problem facing Michigan.”
Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division, stated, “These enforcement actions and others like them around the country, demonstrate our commitment to prosecuting licensed professionals who flood communities with addictive legal drugs for their own personal benefit”
“Today’s indictments are the result of healthcare professionals allegedly contributing to the devastating opioid crisis instead of working toward its solution. The public expects and deserves more from them,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan.
“The opioid epidemic continues to have a harmful impact on many people across this country”, said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “Medical professionals who choose to participate in schemes as alleged in this indictment only exacerbate the problem. The OIG will continue to dedicate and prioritize resources to the investigation of allegations of this nature in an effort to ensure the health and safety of patients and taxpayer dollars.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brandy R. McMillion and Mitra Jafary-Hariri. The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the twelve districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative created by Attorney General Sessions, that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.
The case was investigated by special agents and task force officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.