DOJ Press Release –
Prescriptions were forged for opioids using prescription pads from the clinics’ doctors, then illegally sold the forged opioid prescriptions to opioid users and diverters
Baltimore, Maryland – A criminal complaint has been filed charging the manager of a pain clinic, her boyfriend, and several customers with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including oxycodone and oxymorphone. The defendants charged in the criminal complaint are:
Monica Raynette Clark age 31, of Waldorf, Maryland;
Michael Tyrone Scott III age 28, of Waldorf, Maryland;
Larry Nathaniel Waller age 48, of Williamson, West Virginia;
Mildred Taylor age 67, of Stephenson, West Virginia;
Jason James Johnson age 41, of Kermit, West Virginia; and
Lisa Ann Lewis age 41, of Smithsburg, Maryland.
The complaint was filed on May 17, 2021 and unsealed today upon the arrest of five defendants. The sixth defendant, Larry Nathanial Waller, is in West Virginia state custody on pending charges.
The criminal complaint was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
“State and federal authorities are working to shut down ‘pain clinics’ that are really just fronts for criminals who divert pharmaceutical drugs and hook a new generation of addicts” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “Those who irresponsibly write opioid prescriptions are acting like street-corner drug pushers. We are determined to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths here in Maryland.”
“The operation of a drug trafficking network peddling prescription drugs for profit under the guise of a medical practice not only violates the law, it undermines the public confidence in the healthcare profession,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI and our partners will continue to combat the illegal distribution of opioids, at all levels, through our investigations of those who seek to profit from this activity.”
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, law enforcement obtained evidence that drug trafficking was occurring at two pain clinics—Memorial Care Center, located in Woodbridge, Virginia (“Memorial Care”) and Washington DC Spine Center (“WDC Spine”), which closed in August 2019. Clark was employed as the office manager of Memorial Care and was previously the office manager of WDC Spine. Clark was not a physician and did not have a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) registration number. The criminal complaint alleges that, since Clark was not authorized to prescribe controlled substances, she forged prescriptions for opioids using prescription pads from the clinics’ doctors, then illegally sold the forged opioid prescriptions to opioid users and diverters, including customers who live in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, such as Waller, Taylor, Johnson, and Lewis. Clark is allegedly in a romantic relationship with Scott, who assists Clark in selling the forged prescriptions.
As detailed in the criminal complaint affidavit, investigation revealed that Waller, Johnson, Taylor, and Lewis are customers of Clark who purchase opioid prescriptions for themselves and for others. Law enforcement allegedly discovered text messages between Clark and Waller, Johnson, Taylor, and Lewis arranging for the purchase of forged opioid prescriptions. For example, the complaint alleges that from July 2019 to April 2021, more than 40 prescriptions were filled in Johnson’s name that were purportedly signed under the name of a Memorial Care and/or WDC Spine doctor.
The affidavit alleges that in an effort to evade scrutiny by law enforcement, Clark used several different phones to sell prescriptions and instructed customers to use specific pharmacies to fill prescriptions. For example, Clark allegedly advised Taylor to fill prescriptions at a pharmacy “in Woodbridge… as long as everybody has a West Virginia ID or Virginia ID” as Clark was purportedly aware that pharmacies had begun to refuse opioid prescriptions from Memorial Care. The criminal complaint further alleges this was in relation to an order of prescriptions for more than 20 individuals.
The criminal complaint further alleges that Clark instructed an undercover agent to claim a fictious work injury in order to receive a professional recommendation for opioid use. For example, Clark allegedly stated “When you get a free second, go to the emergency room. Tell them you had an accident at work… tell them you are having numbness and tingling in your leg and your foot. That warrants.” Further, the complaint alleges that Clark later arranged to sell forged prescriptions to the undercover agent. Clark and the undercover agent exchanged conversations in which Clark details meeting dates and times, the price for forged prescriptions, and a deviance in sales methodology as clients began to be compromised by police.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
The overdose crisis continues to devastate our states and local communities. If you believe you may need substance use disorder treatment or recovery services, please call 1800-662-HELP (4357). You may also visit the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland for further information and resources on opioid awareness at https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/page/file/1390896/download.
This case is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI and HHS-OIG for their work in the investigation and thanked Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Office of Personnel Management-Office of Inspector General, the Prince William County Police Department, the Fairfax County Police Department, the Virginia State Police, and the West Virginia State Police for their assistance. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Collins who is prosecuting the case.Arrests Drug Trafficking Healthcare Diversion Opioid Crisis Oxycodone Oxymorphone Pill Mills Rx Fraud