By BRADEN LAMMERS
— The owner of a former Jeffersonville pain clinic, Clark County Wellness LLC., has been arrested and indicted for prescription drug and money laundering conspiracies.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry B. Harvey, announced the arrest and indictment of Ernest William Singleton, 44, Monday.
Singleton was arrested at the Washington County Sheriff's Department Monday morning and is charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to launder funds between October, 2010, and January, 2013, according to a press release issued by Conway’s office.
“Illegal pill mills have fueled the prescription drug epidemic in Kentucky that now kills more people than traffic accidents,” Conway said. “I appreciate the hard work of my Drug Branch Investigators, working in coordination with our state and federal law enforcement partners, in bringing this case forward.”
Singleton, Double D Holdings, LLC and S & R Medical Enterprise, LLC, formerly owned and operated Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management Center in Georgetown, Ky. and Grant County Wellness Clinic, in Dry Ridge, Ky. When Kentucky strengthened its laws regulating pain management clinics, Singleton moved his operations to Jeffersonville.
Despite opposition by the Franklin Commons residents, the clinic opened in late-July and operated through December.
However, the city of Jeffersonville served a notice that the clinic must shut down after the license of Dr. Lea Marlow, who worked at the Clark County Wellness Center, was suspended by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
Jeffersonville passed a law that would limit where pain management clinics could locate after Clark County Wellness had opened. The pain management clinic was operating under a grandfather clause which became void when the board suspended Marlow’s license. Marlow also worked for Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management, also owned by Singleton.
According to a release from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, Marlow prescribed more than 8,000 prescriptions for 3,489 patients, with more than 95 percent receiving oxycodone. Virtually all of Marlow’s patients received identical treatment in the form of oxycodone and diazepam prescriptions and the business operated as “cash-only.”
Jeffersonville City Attorney Les Merkley said Monday he was unaware of any similar charges being pursued in Indiana.
He said the charges filed support one of the reasons why the city passed new regulations on pain management clinics and justifies where clinics located in the city.
Charges against Singleton are the result of an investigation by Kentucky's Department of Criminal Investigations, working in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and Kentucky State Police, according to the release. Prosecution of this case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In addition to the indictment, Singleton, Double D and S&R Medical Enterprises are subject to the forfeiture of farm land, vehicles, businesses and other property that were acquired as proceeds of or used to facilitate the alleged crimes.
Search and seizure warrants were executed today at numerous locations including a Georgetown pharmacy co-owned by Singleton and two private residences in Springfield and Lawrenceburg, according to the release.
A court date for Singleton has not been set. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.
No physicians were named in this indictment, but the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has taken disciplinary action against five doctors affiliated with the Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management Center and Grant County Wellness Clinic, according to the release.
Two of the doctors have agreed to indefinite practice restrictions and must pay $10,000 fines for violating the Medical Practice Act, while one physician remains suspended pending final action by Kentucky’s license board.