Orthopedic Surgeon Sentenced for Opioid Prescription Conspiracies
An orthopedic surgeon, who formerly practiced in Claremore, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for leading multiple conspiracies to write fraudulent opioid prescriptions from October 2015 to October 2017, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell sentenced Dr. Jeremy David Thomas, 43, of Owasso, to five months imprisonment followed by eight months of home confinement for his role in five separate pill sharing conspiracy cases. Thomas was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and to three years supervised release.
“Dr. Thomas was a drug dealer like any other whose business it was to peddle opioids and addiction in our community. But unlike a typical drug dealer, he also performed surgeries on patients. Moreover, he was under the influence during those surgeries,” said U.S. Attorney Shores. “Opioid addiction destroys lives. Not only of the addict, but of those around them. This case showcases the destructive power of opioids.”
“Dr. Thomas’ patients trusted and relied on him for their medical needs” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Dallas Division Special Agent in Charge Clyde E. Shelley, Jr. “However, Dr. Thomas used his patients for his own opioid use and put patients’ lives in danger. We will continue to combat the opioid crisis to cease this kind of practice.”
Thomas’ pleaded guilty Nov. 26, 2018, to writing fraudulent prescriptions for the opioid hydrocodone to multiple co-conspirators who were his patients. His accomplices then filled the prescriptions at area pharmacies and delivered some or all of the hydrocodone tablets to Thomas. As a result of their illegal pill sharing activity, Thomas and his co-conspirators diverted more than 13,740 doses of the drug during a two year period, mainly for the physician’s illegal personal use.
Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard, whose investigators were crucial to the case said, “This is an excellent example of the type of cooperative effort needed to battle this deadly epidemic. This case shows the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction which cut through all socioeconomic statuses and have a negative domino effect in our communities.”
US Attorney Shores also noted the collaborative law enforcement effort involved with this case, “This case was successfully prosecuted thanks to a collaborative effort with Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard and his team. The investigators from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs are all to be commended for their work in bringing Dr. Thomas to Justice.”
Also implicated in the drug conspiracies were Jeffrey Lee Koger, 48, of Claremore; Joseph Marcus Jones, 36, of Claremore; Toni Dawn Martin, 49, of Owasso; Shawn Del Martin, 50, of Owasso; and Chad Lee Choat, 46, of Claremore.
Opioid addiction has plagued families and taken lives. Painkillers are involved in more than 80% of the prescription drug-related overdose deaths in Oklahoma, and hundreds of Oklahomans die each year due to these overdoses. Due to staggering cost of addiction and this month’s DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, April 27, U.S. Attorney Shores has created a Public Service Announcement reminding families to protect their loved ones by safely disposing of prescription drugs and to seek help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. You can find the Public Service Announcement here.
The Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick prosecuted the case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
This investigation and resulting conviction are part of the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 National Healthcare Fraud and Opioid Takedown initiative, the largest ever healthcare fraud enforcement action. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute medical professionals who break the law and contribute to opioid addiction.
To find help and resources to fight opioid addiction, visit the following site: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov