Chattanooga Doctor and Nurse Practictioner Sentenced to Federal Prison in "Pill Mill" Case
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – On Apr. 30. 2015, Dr. Jerome Sherard, 60, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was sentenced to serve 60 months in federal prison and Charles Larmore 67, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was sentenced to serve 156 months in federal prison by the Honorable Curtis L. Collier, U.S. District Judge. Upon release from prison, each will be subject to three years of supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. Sherard was also ordered to forfeit $192,956.31 to the United States. Larmore was fined $20,000 and ordered to forfeit $375,829.20 to the United States.
Sherard and Larmore pleaded guilty to a federal indictment charging them with conspiring to distribute prescription drugs outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. The conspiracies involved Superior One Medical Center (Superior Medical), Primary Care and Pain Clinic (Primary Care), and the Sherard Clinic. All three clinics were located in Chattanooga, Tenn. Both sentences reflected significant reductions based upon their cooperation and assistance in the prosecution of others involved in the clinics. Two other defendants in the case, Faith Blake and Barbara Lang, are awaiting sentencing.
As a result of their convictions, Sherard and Larmore no longer have the ability to write prescriptions for controlled substances. In imposing the prison sentences Judge Collier also noted the importance of deterring other medical providers from illegally prescribing drugs.
Facts presented at the sentencing hearing showed that controlled substances were prescribed to customers of these clinics even though many had histories of substance abuse; displayed physical signs or behaviors of drug abuse or over medication; admitted abusing drugs obtained from the clinic; failed drug tests; were caught abusing and/or distributing their prescribed medication; and/or admitted that they had diverted or sold controlled substances that had been prescribed to them in the past. Evidence showed that many of the individuals who frequented these clinics sold their drugs on the street to other addicts and drug abusers.
Records maintained by the Tennessee Controlled Substances Monitoring Database, showed that Larmore and Sherard were both in the top 12 of the more than 30,000 prescribers in the state. Larmore prescribed over two million pills, containing over 100 pounds of oxycodone, and Sherard wrote prescriptions for several hundred thousand pills, containing more than 45 pounds of oxycodone.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said, “Prescription drug abuse costs Tennessee almost what it spends on its highway budget each year, 1.4 billion dollars. This is a serious societal problem in Tennessee. Medical professionals must comply with federal law and we will vigorously prosecute those who do not.”
Law enforcement agencies participating in this joint investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Trustee’s office, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Chattanooga Police Department, Roane County Sheriff’s Department, and Rockwood Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg L. Sullivan and Michael D. Porter represented the United States at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Stone prosecuted other individuals involved in the drug conspiracies.