CARMEL, Ind. - Four doctors who supposedly ran a system of clinics aimed at helping addicts kick painkillers were illegally selling a drug that's supposed to aid in rehabilitation, authorities said Friday.
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police officers raided clinics Friday morning in Carmel, Noblesville, Muncie, Kokomo and Centerville following an undercover operation that began in 2011.
Dr. Larry Ley, 68, of Noblesville, was being held on $1 million bond on drug-dealing charges in Hamilton County Jail north of Indianapolis. A jail officer did not know if Ley, who prosecutors say was the leader of the operation, had an attorney. A dozen additional suspects, including three other doctors, were either under arrest or being sought by police.
"This was exploiting some people who were really in need for profit," said Dennis Wichern, assistant special agent in charge at the DEA's Indianapolis office.
The probable cause affidavit said that patients would go to clinics operated by organizations called the Drug and Opiate Recovery Network or Living Life Clean and pay cash for prescriptions of Suboxone, a drug that can be used to treat addictions to opioid painkillers or heroin. The clinics took cash and did not accept insurance.
Carmel police Maj. Aaron Dietz said at a news conference Friday that patients going to the Carmel clinic who said they were seeking help for an addiction could obtain a Suboxone prescription after paying $300 cash. Those patients could later get additional prescriptions by paying $120 to $160 cash fees to a receptionist or other employee "virtually never having contact with Dr. Ley or any other doctor," Dietz said.
Dietz said the patients didn't undergo any medical or mental exams and weren't asked to provide medical histories.
Ley sometimes delivered a 15-minute lecture, but there were no drug screenings, the affidavit said. He sometimes met with patients in the park, Dietz said, noting, "One of the 27 undercover visits took only 39 seconds, while others lasted only a few minutes."
Office employees handed out pre-signed prescriptions, the affidavit alleged. In 2013, Ley allegedly wrote nearly 8,500 prescriptions, generating an income of $718,000, the affidavit said.
One patient who visited a clinic referred to it on an online medical site as a "legal drug-pushing operation," the affidavit said.
Dietz said Ley and the other doctors contributed to the area's prescription drug abuse troubles by misusing their medical licenses "for the sole means to make money."
Dietz said the operation attracted hundreds of people seeking the prescriptions.
"We had clients coming from all over the state of Indiana to these clinics," he said.
The other doctors facing charges in the case include:
- George Agapios of Fishers faces 5 felony counts
- Ronald Vierk of Richmond faces 2 felony counts
- Luella Bangura of Lafayette faces 5 felony counts
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