COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The owner of pill mills in Georgetown, Ky., and Dry Ridge, Ky., which illegally dispensed prescription drugs to thousands of patients, was found guilty on all 21 counts of drug trafficking, money laundering, opening and maintaining a drug involved premise and conspiracy charges.
On Thursday, the jury returned guilty verdicts against 45 year-old Ernest William Singleton and his corporate fronts— Double D Holdings, LLC andS and R Medical Enterprises, LLC. These entities, controlled by Singleton, in turn owned Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management; Central Kentucky Family Pharmacy of Georgetown and the Grant County Wellness Center in Dry Ridge, Ky. The two clinics were convicted of the same charges as Singleton. Double D Holdings was convicted on drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. The pharmacy was convicted of money laundering charges. The jury returned the verdict after approximately three hours of deliberation, following three weeks of trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, starting in October of 2010 and continuing until February 2013, doctors at the clinics prescribed Diazepam and Ultram outside the scope of professional practice, not for a legitimate medical purpose, and under Singleton's direction. Singleton then used his businesses to launder the proceeds gained from the drug trafficking.
Additionally, the jury found that Singleton used the drug proceeds to purchase a house in Willisburg, Ky., a boat, farmland, and farm equipment, among other items. Singleton will have to forfeit bank accounts consisting of $427,834.34, more than 20 firearms, over 40 pieces of farm equipment, vehicles, and livestock that either facilitated the crimes or were purchased with proceeds obtained from his criminal offenses.
The evidence at trial established that Singleton oversaw the daily operations of the clinics, influenced doctors to overprescribe drugs to patients, and pressured them to see as many patients as possible. Witnesses testified that, at Singleton's direction, one of the doctors saw more than 90 patients in a day and another doctor visited with some patients for as little as three minutes, before prescribing medication.
Testimony also revealed that when some doctors complained to Singleton, about the volume of patients, he instructed them not to reduce their patient load and told them "if we don't give them (patients) what they want, they won't come back." Doctors testified that they could not provide adequate medical care under Singleton's guidelines. Two of the doctors employed by Singleton, Lea Marlow and Gregory White, pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiring to distribute controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
Other evidence established that the pain clinics operated on a cash-only basis and did not accept insurance. New patients paid approximately $250 on the first visit and $300 on subsequent visits. Investigators estimate that approximately 5,000 patients visited the clinics during the course of the conspiracy.
Singleton faces up to 20 years in prison for both the money laundering and drug trafficking conspiracies. The businesses face a maximum of fine of $250,000. However, any sentences following conviction would be imposed after the Court reviews the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.