MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Another defendant in the ongoing federal investigation into a Montgomery pill mill has pleaded guilty.
Dr. Willie Chester, 65, of Pike Road, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the fraudulent acquisition of controlled substances, admitting that he wrote a prescription for clonazepam, commonly known as Klononpin, despite knowing the patient had no legitimate medical need for the drug.
A sentencing date has not yet been set, but Chester faces a maximum four years in prison and "substantial monetary penalties".
With Chester's plea, a total of nine of the 14 defendants in the case have now pleaded guilty. He marks the fourth doctor to plead guilty.
Chester was indicted in March on fifteen counts, including distributing controlled substances, healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He was listed as a doctor of osteopathy who practiced medicine at Family Practice until December.
Court records indicated Chester was prescribing narcotics to patients without a medical need, and ordering tests and medical visits that were medically unnecessary with the intent to defraud health care benefit programs including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Medicare, and Alabama's Medicaid system.
The investigation into the alleged pill mill was launched on Aug. 1 when Dr. Gilberto Sanchez was arrested at his practice and served with a two-count indictment for drug distribution. He later pleaded guilty to five felony counts including healthcare fraud, money laundering, and distribution of controlled substances.
To date, nine people have pleaded not guilty while five others have claimed their innocence. They include:
- Dr. Gilberto Sanchez
- Dr. Shepard Odom
- Dr. Julio Delgado
- Dr. Willie Chester
- Steven Edward Cox (NP)
- Elizabeth Cronier (NP)
- Stephanie Michell Ott (Nurse)
- Misty Fannin (Administrator)
- Farley Pugh (Office Manager)
PLEADED NOT GUILTY
- Ed Henry
- Lillian Akwuba (NP)
- Suzanne Brownfield (Billing)
- Akash Kumar (Billing)
- Johnnie Chaisson Sanders (Licensed Counselor)