NRI Pulse Staff Report
Atlanta, GA, November 30, 2018: A former physician pleaded guilty earlier this week to operating a pill mill that illegally distributed over 600,000 oxycodone pills out of a pain management clinic in Woodbridge, Virginia.
According to court documents, Shriharsh Laxman Pole, 65, was a physician who voluntarily surrendered his medical license in 2009, and again in 2013. In both instances, Pole admitted to creating a substantial risk to public health by engaging in wrongful prescribing practices for opiates, including oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone.
Upon surrendering his license in 2013, Pole founded Excel Medical Clinic (EMC). EMC operated out of the same office, had the same employees, and the same patients, as Pole’s former practice. Most of EMC’s patients were treated for pain management issues. Pole enlisted the aid of nurse-practitioner and co-conspirator, Janelle Hibson, 63, of Fredericksburg, who pleaded guilty to the same charges on September 6. Hibson pre-signed prescriptions that Pole later filled out and distributed. Patients often received these drugs without undergoing any physical or diagnostic examination to determine whether the drugs were necessary for legitimate medical purposes. Pole admitted that between EMC’s founding and 2015, he caused the distribution of more than 600,000 pills containing oxycodone.
Pole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute Schedule II and III controlled substances, including oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine sulfate, and hydrocodone, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on March 15, 2019. 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.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael P. Ben’Ary and David Peters are prosecuting the case.
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