Jacksonville pharmacist, pharmacy owner sentenced for illegally filling drug prescriptions issued by south Georgia ‘pill mill’ doctor
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
All seven defendants sentenced after pleading guilty in investigation
BRUNSWICK, GA: A pharmacist and a pharmacy owner have been sentenced to close out the prosecution of a white-coat operation that illegally distributed more than half a million opioid pills and other drugs.
Gilbert Nelson Weise Jr., 58, of Fleming Island, Fla., was sentenced to 46 months in prison, fined $5,000 and ordered to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Weise previously pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Dispense Schedule IV Controlled Substances.
U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also sentenced Amy G. Taylor, 43, of Green Cove Springs, Fla., to four years of probation and a $5,000 fine after she pled guilty to Misprision of a Felony.
“These defendants opened the floodgates to opioid abuse by unlawfully dispensing massive amounts of prescription drugs into an uncontrolled environment,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “They hid behind their lab coats and professional affiliations to become nothing more than illegal drug dealers.”
Five others were previously sentenced after pleading guilty for their roles in the criminal activity which spanned from about October 2014 through June 2017, primarily in St. Mary’s, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. David Joseph Muyres, 60, of Fleming Island, Fla.; Mark Alan Ciopryna, 53, of Jacksonville, Fla.; and Silverly Ann May, 51, of St. Augustine, Fla., have completed prison sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges. Courtney G. Gilley, 42, of Fleming Island, Fla., and Rhonda G. Weise, 65, of Fleming Island, Fla., are serving probationary terms after pleading guilty to Misprision of a Felony. The eighth defendant, a physician, was charged in the indictment but was determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial.
“Addressing the diversion and abuse of opioids, as well as other controlled pharmaceuticals, continues to be one of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s top priorities,’’ said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “The defendants in this case admitted to running a ‘pill mill’ and dispensed large quantities of controlled substances. This investigation was a success because of the spirited level of law enforcement cooperation.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Gilbert Weise Jr. and others conspired to dispense hydromorphone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, among other drugs, for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, through prescriptions from a nominal pain management clinic known as Coastline Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Inc., in St. Mary’s, Ga.
Coastline generated significant amounts of cash by illegally dispensing controlled substances to drug-seeking customers who typically paid approximately $300 cash in exchange for prescriptions. When pharmacies began refusing to fill Coastline’s prescriptions because of suspected improper dispensation, Gilbert Weise Jr. was recruited to fill Coastline’s prescriptions at Weise Prescription Shop in Jacksonville.
Evidence presented in court revealed that Weise unlawfully dispensed more than 500,000 pain pills, sold 100,000 hydromorphone pills to a drug dealer for $100,000, and frequently filled stacks of pain pill prescriptions presented and paid for by multiple drug dealers. During the conspiracy, Weise Prescription Shop, a small locally owned pharmacy, was the top purchaser of hydrocodone powder in the United States and the eighth largest purchaser of oxycodone powder in the United States. Weise Prescription Shop purchased more than 17 kilograms of opioid powder to meet the high demand for opioids from Coastline.
In 2015, Amy Taylor, along with Gilbert Weise Jr.’s wife, Rhonda Weise, and Rhonda Weise’s daughter, Courtney Gilley, purchased Coastal RX Pharmacy in Jacksonville. Coastal RX Pharmacy began filling large numbers of Coastline’s illegal prescriptions shortly after its acquisition. Coastal RX was financed in part with a $120,000 loan from Ciopryna. Ciopryna loaned the money with the understanding that it would be repaid in installments of opioid pills that he could then sell on the street for profit. Each of the three co-owners of Coastal RX Pharmacy admitted that they knew of and concealed the unlawful conspiracy.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Savannah Resident Office and Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office Investigator Charles Sikes, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys E. Greg Gilluly Jr., Matthew A. Josephson and Karl I. Knoche.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422
Updated July 22, 2022
Release Number: 94-22