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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 13, 2020

Three Local Doctors and Staff/Patients Indicted for Conspiring to Distribute Oxycodone

St. Louis, Missouri – Eleven individuals were indicted today by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute controlled medications, such as oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose; obtaining controlled medication by deceit and subterfuge; paying and receiving illegal kickbacks for referrals to lab for urine tests of the patients; and submitting false claims to Medicare and other health insurers.

ASIM MUHAMMAD ALI, M.D., 49, of Creve Coeur;

ALEXIS DORJAY BUTLER, 32, of Bellefontaine Neighbors;

SHAUNTA C. CROSBY, 33, of Ferguson;

ERIN MELISSA HERMAN, 35, of Oakville;

VLADIMIR KOGAN, 39, of Afton;

JERRY DALE LEECH, D.C., 47, of Creve Coeur;

STANLEY L. LIBRACH, M.D., 58, of Chesterfield;

DENIS J. MIKHLIN, 40, of Chesterfield;

EBONY R. PRICE, 37, of St. Louis;

ERICA T. SPATES, 32, of Berkley; and

TIJUANA A. SPATES, 36, of Jennings.

According to the indictment, Dr. Asim Muhammad Ali and Dr. Stanley Librach, medical doctors, and Dr. Jerry Dale Leech, a chiropractor, and Denis J. Mikhlin illegally wrote and distributed hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone, oxycontin, hydromorphone, and fentanyl for patients whom Dr. Ali and Dr. Librach did not see, examine, or evaluate. One day a week for about two hours, Dr. Ali or Dr. Librach came into the American Pain Institute (API) and later Institute for Pain Management (IPM) and pre-sign stacks of prescriptions, which were given to API and IPM patients during the next week or two. Dr. Ali and Dr. Librach continued to write prescriptions for controlled substance drugs although many patients repeatedly tested negative for the prescribed drugs and positive for illegal street drugs.

According to the indictment, Dr. Leech, an owner of API and chief of staff for IPM, Denis Mikhlin, the owner of Doctors on the Go, and the other defendants bought and sold prescriptions for controlled substances written in the name of Dr. Librach and other doctors. Dr. Leech received between $200 and $500 for each script he sold, receiving on some occasions as much as $5000.  Dr. Leech and Mikhlin also identified or had other co-defendants identify persons whose names could be used on fraudulent scripts.  The patients were paid in cash or with some of the pills. Dr. Ali, one of the co-owners of Central Diagnostic Laboratory (CDL) paid illegal kickbacks to Dr. Leech, Dr. Librach, and Mikhlin for the referral of drug tests that they sent to CDL.

“Doctors and trained practitioners know better than anyone the twin dangers of addiction and overdose that come with powerful narcotics,” said DEA St. Louis Division Special Agent in Charge William Callahan. "DEA will investigate doctors, like these ones, who prescribe a controlled substance outside the normal course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose to stop their illegal practices."

“As Attorney General, it’s my duty to protect all six million Missourians. To that point, our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit works diligently with both state and federal partners to root out and prosecute fraud. When doctors are abusing the healthcare system and irresponsibly doling out potentially addictive medications for personal gain, we need to hold them responsible. I’m grateful for the chance to work with our federal partners on this case.”

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of overdose deaths in this country involved prescription or illicit opioid," said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. "It is appalling that any health care professional would knowingly fuel this epidemic rather than help stop it."

“Doctors who prescribe medically unnecessary and potentially addictive drugs are a threat to their patients, and their actions will not be tolerated,” said Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “We will continue working closely with our State and Federal law enforcement partners to protect patients and the government healthcare programs on which they depend.”

If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services – OIG are investigating this case. Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy McMurtry is handling this case.

Charges set forth in the Indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Prescription Drugs
Updated February 14, 2020