Goodwin: Logan Doctor Pleads Guilty In Federal Pill-mill Prosecution
So-called doctor’s office lacked running water, medical equipment; doctor faces up to six years in federal prison
*Audio Clip included*
CHARLESTON, W.Va. –United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that a Logan County doctor has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in connection with a Logan County pill mill. Dr. Fernando Gonzales-Ramos, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. Gonzales-Ramos was charged earlier this month in a legal filing known as an information.
“Dr. Gonzales-Ramos wasn’t operating a doctor’s office, he was running a drug den,” said U.S. Attorney Goodwin. “His so-called office had no exam table, no running water, and not even so much as a stethoscope. For thousands of dollars in cash, he was pumping out prescriptions for thousands of units of powerful narcotics.”
Gonzales-Ramos traveled from El Paso, Texas to Logan, West Virginia every three months to illegally dispense prescription painkillers from a Logan County office. Gonzales-Ramos also hired a commercial security guard who was armed with a firearm to protect his makeshift Logan County doctor’s office.
On March 2, 2013, an individual cooperating with the FBI entered the building that the defendant used as an office and paid $450 cash in exchange for a prescription for the painkiller hydrocodone. Prior to obtaining the prescription, the cooperating individual had not been examined or questioned by anyone. The cooperating individual obtained the prescription from Gonzales-Ramos’s office in less than three minutes.
On March 3, 2013, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant on the building located at 2130 Old Logan Road in Logan, W.Va. During the execution of the warrant, agents found several individuals waiting inside to get written prescriptions for controlled substances from Gonzales-Ramos.
From September 2011 through March 3, 2013, Gonzales-Ramos ran a cash-only business at the Logan County office where he charged patients $450 for Schedule III controlled substance prescriptions and $500 for Schedule II controlled substance prescriptions. After collecting the cash payments, Gonzales-Ramos directed a known associate to make cash deposits into his personal bank accounts.
Gonzales-Ramos faces a minimum of 57 months and up to 71 months in prison when he is sentenced on August 14, 2013 by U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.
As part of his plea agreement, Gonzales-Ramos has agreed to surrender his Drug Enforcement Administration Certificate of Registration.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. 119 Drug Task Force, the West Virginia State Police, and the Logan County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Steven Loew is in charge of the prosecution.
This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District.
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Click here listen to an audio clip from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin