PDT Staff Writer
Steven E. Hillman, a Columbus attorney known for representing former Scioto County pain clinics, has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
A federal grand jury has indicted Hillman, 67, of Dublin, Ohio, alleging that he conspired with the owner of three pain clinics in Ohio to illegally divert prescription drugs outside the scope of legitimate medical practice and launder proceeds of the conspiracy.
“The U.S. Attorney down in Cincinnati has re-indicted on the Tracy Bias case and included me,” Hillman told the Daily Times Thursday. “They’re indicting me for money laundering.”
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division; and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the charges contained in a superseding indictment on Wednesday.
The indictment alleges that Hillman conspired with Tracy Bias, 47, of West Portsmouth, Ohio in an attempt to open Physicians Pharmacy in Piketon, Ohio in order to service prescriptions for illegal distribution of controlled substances issued by the pain clinics owned and controlled by Bias and others. The indictment charges that Hillman helped Bias launder $132,920 in cash from the activities of the conspiracy in July of 2010.
Bias and six doctors were initially indicted in April 2012 in a 12-count indictment alleging that they operated three pill mills in southern Ohio between January 2009 and June 2011. The pill mills were Southern Ohio Complete Pain Management and Portsmouth Medical Solutions in Portsmouth, and Trinity Medical Care in Columbus, Ohio.
The indictment says customers allegedly traveled hundreds of miles to the clinics in central and southern Ohio where, for a cash payment of approximately $200 per office visit and with little or no physical examination, clinic customers would receive excessive amounts of “cocktails” of controlled substances including diazepam, hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazalam.
Hillman is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie K. Bowman in Cincinnati on Thursday, at 1:30 p.m. for an initial appearance and arraignment on the charges.
“I go down Thursday and plead not guilty,” Hillman said. “I guess I stand trial June 10 (2013). That’s when the case is set now.” Hillman said.
Named in the indictment, in addition to Hillman and Bias, are Joon H. Chong; John A Halhsten; Marcellus Jajuan Gilreath; Stephen L. Pierce; Jaqmes E. Lassiter and Mark R. Fantauzzi (who pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances, Wednesday).
Count 12 of that indictment reads, “Upon conviction of the offenses set forth in Counts 1 through 12 of this indictment, the defendants, Tracy Bias, Mark R. Fangtauzzi, Marcellus Jajuan Gilreath, James E. Lassiter, and Steven Hillman, shall forfeit to the United States…any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of said violations; and any property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of the said violations, including but not limited to a money judgement of at least $6,750,000 in U.S. currency, which represents the proceeds the defendants obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offense for which they are charged.”
Conspiracy to distribute drugs outside the scope of legitimate medical practice and money laundering are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by agents and officers of the agencies named above, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Oakley, who is prosecuting the case.
One of the people who has been involved in the pain clinic shut downs and in combatting illegal prescription drug activity in the county, Lisa Roberts R.N. of the Portsmouth City Health Department issued a statement on behalf of the Scioto County Drug Action Team Thursday
“Well I am sure not surprised! Hillman’s involvement in these former pain clinics certainly appeared to be more than just some bad judgment or bad luck. So I guess we were wise to steer clear of him when he insisted that ‘we all get on the same page,’” Roberts said. “Many of his former clients have already been convicted and imprisoned. Many deaths are linked to these criminal enterprises. Illegal drug distribution is a serious matter, and I think that this shows that the U.S. Department of Justice takes white-collar drug trafficking very seriously. And we are extremely grateful for all of their efforts. They have been just great to work with. We will be watching this case, and due process will reveal the truth. Meanwhile, I hope that this very bad chapter in the history of Scioto County has come to a permanent end so that we can focus our efforts on getting our community back on the right track - healthy and safe again. This is our home, and we will continue to defend it from greedy drug-dealing predators.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org