A federal sting operation recently led to the conviction of a Texas medical assistant accused of illegally prescribing a total of $3 million worth of drugs to patients at two “pill mill” clinics in Houston and helping other people do the same.
The May 20 sentencing of Charles Thompson, 76, of Houston, was based on charges of distributing more than 1.2 million opioid pills to thousands of people posing as patients at two management clinics of pain, according to the US Department of Justice.
Thompson’s sentencing was the latest legal action in a series of cases involving the operation, including a doctor convicted in March who worked with Thompson at the West Parker Medical Clinic. Internist James Pierre, MD, 52, faces charges of illegally prescribing more than $1 million worth of opioid hydrocodone, according to federal officials.
Thompson also worked at the Priority Wellness Clinic. Six people have pleaded guilty in connection with their conduct at West Parker or Priority Wellness, the Justice Department reported.
From June 2015 to July 2016, while Thompson was at West Parker, he helped Pierre illegally prescribe hydrocodone and the muscle relaxant carisoprodol, a combination controlled substance for pain management known as “Las Vegas Cocktail” to people in the sting operations pretending to be patients, authorities said.
Thompson also distributed illegal carisoprodol prescriptions. The so-called “runners” tricked many people into posing as patients at West Parker and paid the clinic about $220 to $500 in cash for each visit resulting in the prescription of dangerous drugs. Throughout the scheme, West Parker pocketed an estimated $1.75 million from the prescriptions; Thompson was paid over $208,000.
Authorities say Thompson also helped others illegally prescribe controlled substances, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, from May to July 2017 at Priority Wellness, which opened in December 2016 after closing. by West Parker.
Priority Wellness would have operated as a pill mill similar to West Parker’s. The runners brought people posing as patients to Priority Wellness and paid the clinic between $300 and $600. The cost depended on whether the alleged patient was prescribed hydrocodone or oxycodone, almost always prescribed in combination with carisoprodol, authorities said. Throughout the program, Priority Wellness earned approximately $1.1 million and Thompson between $700 and $900 per day.
He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and distribute controlled substances and seven counts of unlawfully distributing and distributing controlled substances in connection with his conduct at West Parker. For his conduct at Priority Wellness, he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and distribute controlled substances and one count of unlawfully distributing and distributing controlled substances.
He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, with sentencing scheduled for October 3.