Special to SEGAZINE
A federal indictment, unsealed yesterday in federal court, has charged 6 defendants with conspiring to traffic oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other drugs through a purported pain clinic known as East Health Center, which operated in Garden City, Georgia from February through May of 2011.
The indictment alleges that during the time that East Health Center was open, members of the conspiracy unlawfully prescribed and caused to be prescribed more than four million milligrams of oxycodone without any legitimate medical purpose. During this same period, prescriptions were written for numerous “patients” who lived outside the state of Georgia, including over 130 from Kentucky; over 50 from North Carolina; over 30 from South Carolina; and over 80 from Florida.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, “During the last two years, we’ve seen a number of pill-mills relocate their unlawful businesses to the State of Georgia. These so-called clinics operate under the guise of a stethoscope and a white coat, and they prey upon their so-called ‘patients.’ Any pill mills that seek to do business in the Southern District of Georgia can expect to be investigated and prosecuted like every other drug trafficking organization that pushes poison in our communities.”
Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the DEA, remarked, ” The DEA will continue to aggressively investigate those who cause to be dispensed addictive pain medications without legitimate medical purpose under the pretext of a medical doctor’s care.”
The indictment results from a joint investigation by the DEA, IRS – Criminal Investigations, GBI, Chatham Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT), and the United States Marshals Service. Personnel from the Ware County Sheriff’s office assisted in making arrests.
Any defendant found guilty of the drug conspiracy charged in the indictment faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000. The money laundering count also charged carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. The United States is also seeking to forfeit various items of personal property involved in the offenses, including $365,000 as the alleged proceeds of the defendants’ drug operation. The indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The 6 defendants indicted are:
Sean Michael Clark, 34, of Boca Raton, Florida;
Adelaida M. Lizama, 27, of Boca Raton, Florida;
Daniel John Wise, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Georgia;
Najam Azmat, 55, of Waycross, Georgia;
Candace Anne Carreras, 25, of Boca Raton, Florida; and,
Shelly Lynn Morford, 31, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Other targets of the investigation have already pled guilty for their role in the East Health Center pill-mill. Adelard LeFrancois, III, 43, of Boca Raton, Florida and Francis J. Barbuscia, 36, of Plantation, Florida, entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore, Jr. on August 3, 2012. Each pled guilty to conspiring to dispense controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose. Konstantinos Afthinos, 32, of Florida pled guilty to misprision of felony on November 5, 2012. On November 7, 2012, Kenneth Gossett, 51, of Rome Georgia, pleaded guilty to conspiring to dispense controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose.