NASHVILLE – James C. Sells III, of Springville, Tennessee, has agreed to pay the United States a total of $500,000 to settle allegations that he fraudulently applied for and received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and violated the Controlled Substances Act, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis.
According to the Settlement Agreement, Sells had ownership in several office-based opioid treatment programs in middle Tennessee, including Nashville Recovery LLC, which he sold in September 2022, Everwell Medical LLC, in Murfreesboro, Forever Well, LLC, in Dickson, and Journey Medical, in Gallatin. The programs, acting through Sells, applied for, and obtained multiple loans from the PPP in the total amount of $143,109, all of which were forgiven.
In addition, in the Settlement Agreement, the United States also alleges that from January 1, 2020, through September 8, 2020, one of the providers who sees patients at two of the programs failed to secure his password to the electronic prescribing system and allowed his office manager to electronically sign prescriptions, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
Of the $500,000 settlement, $143,109 is restitution relating to the PPP loans; $143,109 is damages relating to the PPP loan; and the remaining $213,782 is civil penalties for violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
The civil claims settled by this Settlement Agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
This matter was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration - Diversion Group and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kara F. Sweet of the Middle District of Tennessee.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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