North AL doctors caught up in federal opioid sweep

North AL doctors caught up in federal opioid sweep
DEA agents executed a search warrant at Choice Medicine in Toney on Feb. 26, 2019.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Four Alabama doctors were caught up in a federal law enforcement action targeting controlled substance crimes. Two of those doctors are currently based in the Huntsville and Madison County area and a third faces charges from when he previously worked in Huntsville. The fourth doctor is based in the Hoover area.

Toney Doctor Celia Lloyd-Turney was arrested by Federal Law Enforcement agents after being indicted by a Federal Grand Jury.

Dr. Lloyd-Turney operated Choice Medicine Clinic in Toney according to the indictment.

Dr. Lloyd-Turney faces nine counts of a unlawful distribution of a controlled substance charge.

According to the indictment Dr. Lloyd-Turney was dispensing prescription medication in excessive quantities from her clinic. The indictment says some patients had access to as many as 15 pills per day.

The indictment also alleges that Dr. Lloyd-Turney prescribed dangerous combinations of drugs known to heighten the risk of overdose and death and signed blank prescription forms to be used by staff members when she was not at work.

Choice Medicine was raided by federal law enforcement in February of 2019.

A criminal complaint was also filed Thursday against Huntsville Doctor Marshall Plotka who practiced at Phoenix Emergency Care in South Huntsville.

The complaint against Dr. Plotka doesn’t specify where he practiced medicine and focuses on illegal actions that allegedly took place at his South Huntsville home on Chamlee Place.

According to the complaint Dr. Plotka allegedly recruited prostitutes and other young women who he had sex with to become patients at his clinic while allowing them to abuse drugs at his house.

The complaint alleges that Huntsville Police were called to Dr. Plotka’s home 35 different times since October 2015 including two seperate indicents where first responders went to Dr. Plotka’s home for drug overdoses

The complaint says Dr. Plotka’s home was raided on March 27th of 2019 the complaint says he’s accused of “maintaining a drug-involved premises.”

Dr. John Cimino and a woman named Katherine Barnett also face healthcare fraud charges that were uncovered during this federal operation.

According to the complaint Dr. Cimino practiced at the Center for Women’s Healthcare in Huntsville. It’s unclear where Dr. Cimino now works but according to the Alabama State Board of Medical examiners he moved to Florida in 2018.

Katherine Barnett worked as a marketer for a pharmacy in Vestavia Hills and operated what the complaint says was a “shell” company called Medical Sports Performance.

Dr. Cimino and Barnett are accused of defrauding a TRICARE which is a Department of Defense Military Health System that pays for medical treatments and supplies. Cimino and Barnett are accused of writing false prescriptions for patients and then billing TRICARE for those prescriptions. The complaint says the pair submitted more than $300K in fraudulent claims to TRICARE.

Dr. Elizabeth Korcz out of Hoover is the fourth Alabama doctor to face charges in this investigation. Dr. Korcz is accused of running a pill mill out of her Hoover Medical Office.

Dr. Korcz allegedly prescribed opioids in high dosages, dangerous combinations, and in many cases, after having knowledge that patients failed drug screens and were addicts, preferring cash payments and charging a “concierge fee” that ranged from approximately $50 per visit or $600 per year.

Charges were brought against 60 individuals around the country as part of this Federal Opioid operation. It encompassed 10 different federal court districts.

“The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But the Department of Justice is doing its part to help end this crisis. One of the Department’s most promising new initiatives is the Criminal Division’s Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which began its work in December. Just four months later, this team of federal agents and 14 prosecutors has charged 60 defendants for alleged crimes related to millions of prescription opioids. I am grateful to the Criminal Division, their U.S. Attorney partners, and to the members of the strike force for this outstanding work that holds the promise of saving many lives in Appalachian communities.”

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