A Chattanooga pill mill operator was sentenced to 280 years in federal prison on Thursday, and the Roane County Sheriff’s Office was among the law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation that led to her indictment and subsequent conviction, authorities said.
Barbara Lang, a.k.a. “Aunt Bea,” 61, of Rossville, Georgia, was sentenced by the Honorable Curtis L. Collier, U.S. District Judge, said United States Attorney William C. Killian of the Eastern District of Tennessee.
After a 25-day trial that spanned almost three months, Lang was convicted of two counts of conspiring to distribute and dispense Schedule II and IV controlled substances, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose; five counts of maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing controlled substances; and 14 counts of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements, a press release said.
Lang was charged along with three other people. Her daughter, Faith Blake, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs through Superior One medical clinic, a business she operated with her mother, the press release said. It said Blake also pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs through Elite Care, another Chattanooga pain clinic that she operated. Additionally, she pleaded guilty to obstructing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and failure to appear for a federal court proceeding. Sentencing for Blake is set for 9 a.m. October 1 in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.
Dr. Jerome Sherard, Superior One’s medical director, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs at Superior One Medical Clinic and at the Sherard Clinic, his own practice, the press release said. Sherard was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison. Sherard was also ordered to forfeit $192,956.31 to the United States, the release said.
It said Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner employed by Lang at Superior One and Primary Care, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs at both those clinics. Larmore was sentenced to serve 13 years in federal prison. Larmore was also fined $20,000 and ordered to forfeit $375,829.20 to the United States, the release said.
“We are very pleased with this very lengthy sentence given to this defendant, who disbursed these very addictive drugs to many people over a long period of time,” Killian said. “Illegal opioid pain medication distribution organizations, such as this, contribute to an epidemic of addiction in the United States. We thank the cooperative work of the federal, state and local agencies, who investigated this case and participated in this very lengthy trial. She will never be able to participate in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs again.”
“The dispensing of addictive prescription pain medication under the guise of a doctor’s care is not about the good of the community or an individual’s specific health needs; it is about greed, and those involved in ‘pill mill’ activity are in fact drug dealers,” said Daniel R. Salter, special agent in charge of Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Division. “The sentencing of this defendant makes the Chattanooga area a safer place today.”
Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of Lang, Blake, Sherard, and Larmore included: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); IRS-Criminal Investigation; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office; Chattanooga Police Department; Roane County Sheriff’s Department; and Rockwood Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg L. Sullivan and Michael D. Porter represented the United States at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Stone prosecuted other individuals involved in the drug conspiracies.
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