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Police: Baton Rouge clinic had underground painkiller trade

Penalties related to drug crimes can be extremely harsh in Louisiana, including decades of imprisonment and thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. State laws categorize controlled substances from Schedule I to Schedule IV drugs, according to the drugs' perceived danger,

A Baton Rouge sports clinic doctor became suspicious in December, after a pharmacist requested verification of a prescription. The physician claimed he didn't write the prescription, so facility administrators called authorities.

Police had the doctor pull up a report showing the prescriptions that had been written under his unique federal Drug Enforcement Administration number. The audit showed more than 230 bogus prescriptions had been issued in the doctor's name.

Police turned their attention to the pharmacies that handled the prescriptions. Eventually, nine people connected to the sports clinic were blamed for drug trafficking including the facility's employees and patients.

Among those charged with manufacturing and distributing Schedule II painkillers was a 40-year-old Plaquemine man, a clinic worker until last summer. Members of the accused ring also are charged with state racketeering charges for operating an illegal prescription drug business.

One of the pharmacy customers interviewed by police said the defendant encouraged him to visit the clinic to help with back issues. On the first visit, the man was given a painkiller prescription. During a follow-up visit, the defendant allegedly offered the patient a fee for filling fraudulent prescriptions.

The patient apparently agreed to take $1,000 for filling a prescription for hundreds of oxycodone pills. Subsequent deals between the defendant and patient reportedly moved off the premises, until the fake prescriptions were detected.

The defendant is accused of creating more than 30 of the 232 forged drug orders that were written between 2008 and last December.

Defense plea bargaining can limit the damage of drug offense conviction. Charges and sentences can be downsized in exchange for a guilty plea and testimony against co-defendants. However, plea bargains are not acceptable in all cases. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney may provide insight into possible options for a criminal case.

Source: The Advocate, "BR clinic worker arrested in prescription drug scheme" Ryan Broussard, Jan. 27, 2014

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