Baltimore, Maryland – United States Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Donald Russell, age 53, of Waldorf, Maryland today to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for his participation in a drug conspiracy in connection with the operation of purported pain management clinics that were actually “pill mills.” Eleven co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; Chief Gary Gardner of the Howard County Police Department; Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry; St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans; Chief Peter Newsham of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department; Commissioner Darryl DeSousa of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police.
According to court documents, “pill mills” routinely engage in the practice of prescribing and dispensing controlled substances – primarily oxycodone – outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. The owners kept the profits from the pill mill operations and from the sales of oxycodone in cash. According to the indictments, the owners recruited “distributors” and “runners” to visit their clinics so that they would profit from the cash fees charged for an office visit. Runners are recruited – usually by a distributor – to enter pill mill clinics with fictitious complaints of pain in order to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances. Typically, runners filled the prescription and gave the oxycodone tablets they received to the distributor. Runners were typically paid in either cash or oxycodone tablets for their services. The distributors then generally sold the pills for a profit.
According to the plea agreement, from February 2014 through May 2015, Russell and co-defendant Bruce Kevin Lewis, age 52, of Deale, Maryland, owned and operated PG Wellness Center, LLC (PG Wellness), and A Plus Pain Clinic, LLC (A Plus Pain), purported pain management clinics located in Oxon Hill, Maryland and Washington, D.C., respectively. PG Wellness and A Plus Pain were actually pill mills.
Russell was captured on numerous wiretap calls buying and selling oxycodone pills, or prescriptions for oxycodone pills, from persons who regularly visited the clinics and/or arranged for others to do so. For example, on September 28, 2014, Russell and co-defendant Walter Moffett had a series of calls about Mr. Moffett bringing two patients to the clinic.
Russell worked with at least 62 different individuals who visited the clinics to obtain illicit oxycodone prescriptions. These included codefendants Melissa Catlett, Terrell Downing, John Fields, Ronald Kans, Robert Long, Walter Moffett, Ronald Rust, Danielle Silberstein, Peter Snyder, and Ronald Tennyson.
According to the plea agreement, on or about October 31, 2014, Russell and Lewis discussed the profits reaped that month from their clinics: $4,400 – 4,500 from A Plus Pain and $48,000-50,000 from PG Wellness. They talked about hiding the money and discussed methods that regulatory authorities had used when examining other pill mill clinics.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Russell distributed at least 2,307,000 milligrams (2,307 grams) of oxycodone.
The following 11 individuals have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy:
Bruce Kevin Lewis, age 55, of Deale, Maryland; Danielle Silberstein, age 34, of Waldorf; Robert Long, age 37, of Mechanicsville, Maryland; Jamie Davis, age 31, of LaPlata, Maryland; Ronald Tennyson, age 35, of Mechanicsville; Terrell Downing, age 28, of New Carrollton, Maryland; John Fields, age 65, of Temple Hills, Maryland; Ronald Rust, age 47, of Alexandria, Virginia; Walter Moffett, age 54, of Chestertown, Maryland; Ronald Kans, age 44, of LaPlata, Maryland; and Peter Snyder, age 37, of Ocean City, Maryland.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning praised the DEA Tactical Diversion Squads from Baltimore and Washington DC, HHS-Office of Inspector General, Howard County Police Department, Charles County Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, Prince George’s County Police Department, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore City Police Department, and Virginia State Police for their work in this pharmaceutical investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth S. Clark who is prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.