MEMPHIS, Tenn. — U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant formally announced the indictments Thursday of 16 people in West Tennessee accused of illegally prescribing millions of opioids and other medications.
It was part of a larger operation that involved 60 defendants in several states.
Dunavant called it the largest takedown of medical professionals ever. Many defendants face decades in prison and fines up to $1 million if convicted.
“These defendants are nothing more than white-coated drug dealers,” Dunavant said.
- Dr. Thomas Kelly Ballard III, who allegedly prescribes 4.2 million opioid pills, sometimes to known addicts
- Michelle N. Bonfield, a pharmacy technician in Bells, Tennessee
- Glenn R. Bonfield, a licensed pharmacist in Bells, Tennessee
- Dr. Richard Farmer, a doctor of psychiatry in Memphis accused of prescribing drugs in exchange for sexual favors or companionship. He’s also accused of prescribing to a pregnant woman.
- Dr. Michael Hellman, who allegedly prescribed drugs without examinations
- Dr. Thomas Hughes, who allegedly fraudulently supplied himself with testosterone
- James Litton, a former nurse practitioner
- Kathryn Russell, a registered nurse who allegedly prescribed drugs illegally and was under the influence of drugs at Dillon Russell Health Professionals of Memphis
- Britney Petway, a nurse practitioner who owned and operated Superior Health in Jackson
- Dr. Charles Alston, supervised Petway
- Mary Ann Bond, a nurse practitioner in Bells, Tennessee who allegedly illegally supplied drugs to groups
- Dr. Jay Shires, charged with Bond
- Dr. Loran Karlosky, charged with Bond
- Jeffrey W. Young Jr., a nurse practitioner who branded himself the “Rock Doc” and allegedly prescribed combinations of opioids and other drugs in exchange for sexual favors
- Dr. Alexander Alperovich, charged along with Young
- Dr. Andrew Rudin, charged along with Young
“This is what’s creating the dependency, is creating the addiction,” Dunavant said. “These pills that might’ve been acquired originally in a reasonable and lawful way are now being pushed upon patients, creating addiction.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioid addiction kills approximately 130 Americans every day, which is why local, state and federal agencies said they’re going to keep working together to combat the problem.
“It is just a straight-up drug dealing crime, and I would tell you that I don’t think that that’s a blurry line that you don’t know it when you cross it,” Dunavant said.