Two doctors and a nurse are indicted on opioid overprescribing and other federal charges.
Federal authorities have announced criminal indictments against two Tennessean doctors and one Tennessee nurse for allegedly distributing highly addictive opioids to their patients without a legitimate medical reason. Hau T. La, 54, of Brentwood, Tennessee, has been charged with a total 16 counts of unlawful distribution after the DOJ allegedly found that he dispensed highly addictive drugs such as morphine sulfate, oxycodone, and oxymorphone between August 2018 and February 2021.
Dr. Yogeshwar Gill, 45, also known as ‘Gary Gill,’ is charged with one count related to what the DOJ called “routinely” conspiring with others “to distribute hydrocodone, oxycodone, and buprenorphine without medical cause between Sept. 4, 2019, and April 2022.” Gill led a family practice in Manchester. The clinic has since closed its doors.
Contessa Holley, 45, of Pulaski, Tennessee, has been accused of fraudulently submitting prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone while she worked as a hospice nurse and using government money to line her pockets. Holley often used the names of patients in palliative care, as well as the names, federal drug ID numbers and signatures of doctors, to commit these crimes. Using the identities of others, Holley was able to forge signatures of two hospice physicians and fill unauthorized prescriptions in the names of several patients at multiple pharmacies in both Lawrence and Giles Counties between May 2017 and June 2019. She has been formally charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and drug possession with the intent to distribute.
“Today’s Opioid Enforcement Action highlights the Department of Justice’s latest efforts in responding to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which last year alone caused the tragic loss of life for more than 75,000 people in the United States due to overdose,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly with its partners to combat this epidemic, and to seek to prevent the next tragic loss of life.”
Federal authorities added, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid system, has taken six administrative actions against providers for their alleged involvement in these offenses.” The agency is working around the clock to put a stop to fraudulent activity.
The latest investigations and Tennessee medical personnel arrests were made possible as part of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, a unit that has charged 111 people to date with alleged crimes related to the distribution of prescription opioids. The group partners with federal investigators in several U.S. states including Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported, in the Tennessee medical community alone, there are approximately 70,000 patients addicted to opioids. The state faces overdoses and death of epic proportions, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. While some of the issue can be blamed on illicit activities and the purchases of street drugs, federal investigators believe that much of the addiction crisis stems from the medical community purposefully overprescribing lethal opioid drugs for financial gain.