Counselor indicted in Montgomery pill mill investigation

Counselor indicted in Montgomery pill mill investigation
A counselor is the latest to be indicted by a federal grand jury

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A counselor is the latest to be indicted by a federal grand jury for her role in a Montgomery pill mill investigation.

According to United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr., Johnnie Chaisson Sanders, 48 of Wetumpka, has been indicted on charges of health care fraud and perjury offenses.

Court documents indicate Sanders previously provided mental health care counseling services at Family Practice. While working there, Sanders provided counseling services to patients of Dr. Gilbert Sanchez who were receiving controlled substances.

According to the indictment, Sanders is alleged to have provided bogus diagnoses of mental health conditions for the purpose of allowing Sanchez to support prescribing unnecessary medications. The indictment alleges Sanders would also collect cash payments from patients for counseling services even though she knew that Sanchez's office would bill the patients' insurance companies for the same services.

Furthermore, the indictment alleges that during some of the "unnecessary and ineffective mental health counseling", Sanders would make romantic advances towards her patients. Such advances included but were not limited to, touching a patient's reproductive parts and removing an article of her own clothing.

As for the perjury charge, Franklin says Sanders allegedly testified before a grand jury and falsely claimed Sanchez did not require patients to undergo counseling sessions with her. Documents say Sanders knew Sanchez required patients who received prescriptions for controlled substances to visit Sanders for mental health counseling.

If convicted, Sanders faces a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for health care fraud and a maximum sentence of five years on the perjury count. Franklin says she also faces substantial fines and monetary penalties.

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