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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 26, 2019

Former Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Illegal Sale of Opioids

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former physician was sentenced today to more than seven years in prison for operating a pill mill that illegally distributed over 600,000 oxycodone pills out of a pain management clinic in Woodbridge.

“Pole’s repeated and callous actions endangered the community,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Pole put highly addictive, dangerous drugs into the hands of scores of customers that had no actual need for them. It is exactly the type of irresponsible behavior that continues to fuel the opioid epidemic that is gripping our communities. The Eastern District will remain dogged in its pursuit of heroin traffickers, illicit fentanyl, and dirty practitioners like this as we continue to fight this three-front battle against opioids.”

According to court documents, Shriharsh Laxman Pole, 65, was a physician who voluntarily surrendered his medical license in 2009, and again in 2013. In both instances, Pole admitted to creating a substantial risk to public health by engaging in wrongful prescribing practices for opiates, including oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone.

Upon surrendering his license in 2013, Pole founded Excel Medical Clinic (EMC). EMC operated out of the same office, had the same employees, and the same patients, as Pole’s former practice. Most of EMC’s patients were treated for pain management issues. Pole enlisted the aid of nurse-practitioner and co-conspirator, Janelle Hibson, 63, of Fredericksburg, who pleaded guilty to the same charges on September 6. Hibson pre-signed prescriptions that Pole later filled out and distributed. Patients often received these drugs without undergoing any physical or diagnostic examination to determine whether the drugs were necessary for legitimate medical purposes. Pole admitted that between EMC’s founding and 2015, he caused the distribution of more than 600,000 pills containing oxycodone.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael P. Ben’Ary and David Peters prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-303.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Prescription Drugs
Contact: 
Contact: Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated April 26, 2019