Doctor, nurse indicted in ongoing Montgomery pill mill investigation

Doctor, nurse indicted in ongoing Montgomery pill mill investigation
Family Practice on Atlanta Highway

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Another doctor and nurse have been indicted in ongoing Montgomery pill mill investigation, pushing the total number of indicted former Family Practice employees to 11.

Federal court records indicate Dr. Willie Chester, Jr. was indicted on fifteen counts, including distributing controlled substances, healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Chester is listed as a doctor of osteopathy who practiced medicine at Family Practice until December.

Court records indicate 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.

Registered nurse, Stephanie Michelle Ott was indicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud. Court records indicate Ott worked as an independent medical practice consultant for Family Practice, who was hired in 2015 as an independent contractor to establish an electric health record and billing system.

Court records indicate Ott was involved in a scheme to defraud health benefit programs.

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.

Many of the defendants are charged with multiple counts for their alleged involvement in prescribing medications such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, alprazolam, and other medications for "no legitimate medical purposes" and aiding and abetting the distribution of controlled substances.

The indictment also states the defendants devised a scheme alongside Sanchez to defraud health care benefit programs by ordering tests and procedures under "materially false and fraudulent pretenses" and diagnosing the patients with vague and unsubstantiated medical conditions.

The healthcare plans that were reportedly defrauded through this scheme include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, VIVA Medicare Plus, Alabama Medicaid Agency, Alabama Public Education Employees' Health Insurance Plan, and UnitedHealth Group, INC.

Court documents indicate those who were illegally prescribed controlled substances were forced to come in every 30 days for an office visit to receive more medication.

"After performing these unnecessary office visits, the defendants would bill and cause to be billed the health care benefit programs providing health insurance to the patients for the office visits," the indictment stated. "Each office visit resulted in a bill of around $75.00,"

The business model reportedly brought in millions for the practice.  Following Sanchez's arrest, paychecks bounced for employees on three different occasions.

"The practice was a lucrative business venture," the indictment stated. "In 2014, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $4,352,352.63. In 2015, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $3,292.549.40. In 2016, the practice earned gross receipts of or about $3,087,530.25,"

In December, Family Practice officially closed its doors.

Defendants and Charges:

1. Gilberto Sanchez, doctor:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance
  2. Health care fraud
  3. Money laundering
  4. Money laundering
  5. Money laundering

2. Shephard Odom, doctor:

  1. Controlled substance: sell, distribute, or dispense and aiding and abetting
  2. Money Laundering: interstate commerce

3. Julio Delgado, doctor:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  5. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  6. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  7. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  17. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  18. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  19. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  20. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

4. Willie Chester, Jr, doctor:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance; forfeiture allegation
  2. Controlled substance - sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  3. Controlled substance - sell, distribute, or dispense aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  4. Controlled substance - sell, distribute, or dispense aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  5. Controlled substance - sell, distribute, or dispense aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  6. Controlled substance - sell, distribute, or dispense aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  7. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud; forfeiture allegation
  8. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  9. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  10. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  11. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  12. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  13. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  14. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation
  15. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation

5. Lillian Akwuba, nurse practitioner:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  3. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  4. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  5. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  6. Controlled substance: sell, distribute or dispense
  7. Health care fraud: aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  17. Health care fraud, aiding and abetting
  18. Controlled substance: sell, distribute, or dispense
  19. Money laundering – interstate commerce
  20. Interstate Commerce; aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  23. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  24. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  25. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  26. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  27. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  28. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

6. Steven Edward Cox, nurse practitioner:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  5. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  6. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  7. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  8. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  9. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  10. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  15. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  16. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  17. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  18. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  19. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  20. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  21. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  22. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  23. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  24. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

7. Elizabeth Cronier, nurse practitioner:

  1. Conspiracy to distribute controlled substance
  2. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  3. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  4. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting
  5. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud
  6. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting
  7. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense
  8. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  9. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  10. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  11. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  12. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  13. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  14. Health care fraud – aiding and abetting
  15. Controlled substance – sell, distribute, or dispense; aiding and abetting

8. Stephanie Michelle Ott, nurse:

  1. Attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud; forfeiture allegation
  2. Health care fraud; aiding and abetting; forfeiture allegation

9. Suzanne Brownfield, billing:

  1. Health care fraud

10. Akash Kumar, billing:

  1. Health care fraud

11. Misty Fannin, administration:

  1. Money laundering – interstate commerce, forfeiture allegations
  2. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  3. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  4. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  5. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  6. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  7. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  8. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  9. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  10. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  11. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  12. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  13. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  14. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  15. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  16. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  17. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  18. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  19. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  20. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  21. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  22. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  23. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  24. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  25. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  26. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  27. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations
  28. Money laundering – interstate commerce and aiding and abetting, forfeiture allegations

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