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Press Release

Shelby Township Doctor Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Illegally Distributing More than 270,000 Opioid Pills worth more than $6.3 Million

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT - Shelby Township physician Lawrence Mark Sherman, 75, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison based on his conviction following a jury trial on 20 charges related to the unlawful diversion of prescription drugs, announced U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison.

Joining Ison in the announcement were Special Agent in Charge Cheyvorea Gibson, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division, and Special Agent in Charge Mario Pinto of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

Sherman was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy, who presided over the trial. The charges on which he was convicted and sentenced stemmed from his involvement in the operation of Tranquility Wellness Center, Inc. from about March 2020 through June 2021. Sherman worked part-time at Tranquility Wellness Center, which operated first in Dearborn and later in Saint Clair Shores. Out of that clinic, Dr. Sherman unlawfully prescribed primarily Oxycodone, Oxymorphone , and Oxycodone-Acetaminophen 10- (Percocet), three of the most addictive prescription opioids. These prescription drugs are also among the most highly diverted prescription opioids due to their high street value.

Federal agents first executed search and arrest warrants against Sherman and Tranquility Wellness Center in June 2021. The other defendants charged in the case, including clinic operators Janeice Burrell and Angelo Smith, clinic employee Akeyla Bell, and Peter Burrell previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Dr. Sherman conspired with the other defendants to illegally authorize more than 3,000 opioid prescriptions for supposed “patients” who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs, and who were typically brought to the clinic by “patient recruiters/marketers.” Tranquility Wellness Center accepted only cash, and charged patients not based on the service provided, but instead based on the quantity, type, and dosage of prescription opioids that the “patient” received. The clinic also charged cash for the creation of fraudulent medical records for the supposed “patients.” Janeice Burrell and Angelo Smith paid Dr. Sherman in cash or peer-to-peer money transfer application, and only paid him if he wrote controlled substance prescriptions, not based on any supposed “medical care.”

During the trial the jury heard evidence and testimony that Doctor Sherman issued more than 270,000 dosage units of Schedule II opioid prescriptions during the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a street value in excess of $6.3 million.

While the unlawful controlled substance prescriptions were paid for in cash, both controlled and non-controlled “maintenance” medications were billed to health care benefit programs by pharmacies. Billings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for medically unnecessary prescription drug medications and maintenance medications during this conspiracy exceeded $500,000.

“My office will not waver in its commitment to aggressively identify, investigate, and prosecute doctors and other health care professionals who feed the opioid epidemic by writing illegal opioid prescriptions,” stated U.S. Attorney Ison. “Health care professionals have both an opportunity and a duty to help address the terrible impact the opioid epidemic has had on our community, but Dr. Sherman chose to only make it worse.”

"The sentencing of Dr. Sherman highlights the FBI's ongoing efforts against medical professionals who are using their position to line their own pockets while ultimately contributing to the opioid crisis," said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. "His actions endangered countless lives, which goes against the oath he took as a doctor. We remain committed to investigating health care fraud and holding those who exploit their positions accountable."

“Physicians and other medical providers who abuse their oath by unlawfully prescribing potentially dangerous and addicting opioids for financial gain, do so without regard for the wellbeing of their patients,” said Mario M. Pinto of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Our office is committed to working together with our law enforcement partners to bring those who engage in unlawful and dangerous overprescribing to justice.”

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew J. Lievense and Adriana Dydell. 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 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General.

Updated May 9, 2024

Prescription Drugs