Federal Grand Jury Charges Owner of Several North Texas Pill Mills with Drug Conspiracy and Firearm Charges
During National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, DOJ Seeks to Prevent New Victims From Succumbing to Addiction and Highlight its Ongoing Commitment to Hold Drug Traffickers Accountable
DALLAS — During a week that the Department of Justice has designated as National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, in which it seeks to prevent new victims from succumbing to addiction and highlight its ongoing commitment to hold traffickers accountable, a federal grand jury in Dallas returned a superseding indictment charging John Christopher Ware, a/k/a “Little Chris,” with drug distribution conspiracy and firearm charges stemming from his operation of several “pill mills” in north Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Ware, 44, formerly of Dallas but now residing in Houston, and coconspirator Stanley James, Jr., 57, of Dallas and Houston, were each originally indicted in November 2015 on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance (hydrocodone). James, who is in custody, pleaded guilty in May 2016 to that indictment and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 15, 2016. This week’s superseding indictment adds the offense of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to, and possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime as to Ware. Trial is set for November 28, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle.
According to the superseding indictment, Ware owned a series of clinics in north Texas and elsewhere that operated as “pill mills,” unlawfully distributing hydrocodone and other controlled substances. For instance, Ware and James owned and operated Great Southwest Medical Clinic on Great Southwest Parkway in Dallas; Arlington Oaks Adult Medical Clinic on Billings Street in Arlington, Texas; and Redbird Family Medical Clinic on Camp Wisdom Road in Dallas. Ware and James owned and operated these three medical clinics under an umbrella company, J.C. Rapha Medical Management Group, LLC.
Sometime in mid-2014, Ware and James separated at least a part of their business interests, including interests in the Arlington Oaks and Redbird clinics. In late July 2014, Ware and another individual formed AC Medical Management Group, LLC, to operate medical clinics. Ware continued managing Arlington Oaks, but changed the clinic’s name to AC Medical Clinic and relocated it in November 2014 to East Arkansas Lane in Arlington, where he continued to own and operate it until it closed in May 2015. From approximately March 2015 to October 8, 2015, Ware and others also owned and operated KSW Medical Management on Bolton Boone Drive in Desoto, Texas.
Hydrocodone is the generic name for a narcotic analgesic that is also sold under a variety of brand names such as Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab. It is also referred to by the street names “hydros,” “vics,” “norcos,” and “tabs.” When legally supplied by a licensed practitioner for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice, hydrocodone is used to combat moderate pain. It is a controlled substance (narcotic) that is widely abused and it is frequently diverted from legitimate medical channels and distributed illicitly on the street for profit and abuse.
The superseding indictment alleges that beginning as early as September 2013 and continuing to October 8, 2015, Ware conspired with others to distribute and dispense hydrocodone through Great Southwest, Arlington Oaks, Redbird, AC Medical Clinic, and KSW pill mills knowing that the prescriptions for the hydrocodone had not been issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a medical practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice. The superseding indictment further alleges that on approximately April 9, 2014, Ware knowingly used, carried, and brandished, or aided and abetted the use, carrying, or brandishing of a firearm (handgun) during and in relation to the drug trafficking crime of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
A federal indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance (hydrocodone) carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. The penalty for firearm offense, upon conviction, is not less than seven years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Nicholas Bunch and Myria Boehm are in charge of the prosecution.
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