By Frank Lewis
Two high-profile cases from the days of the multitude of pain clinic operations in Scioto County have been determined in Federal court and both have been sentenced to terms in Prison.
Christopher Stegawski, 65, of Cleveland, and John Randy Callihan, 58, of Portsmouth, were sentenced in U.S. District Court for running “pill mills.” Stegawski was sentenced Monday to 160 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release. Callihan was sentenced today to 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine; Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), A.J. Groeber, Executive Director of the State Medical Board of Ohio; and Steven W. Schierholt, Executive Director, Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced the sentences handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett.
According to court testimony, beginning about November 2009 until May 2012, Stegawski and Callihan owned and/or operated a business initially known as Eastside Medical Specialist in Dayton, Ohio. In February 2010, the business moved to Lucasville, Ohio and the name was changed to Lucasville Medical Specialist. Stegawski took over the ownership of Lucasville Medical Specialist and listed his partner and co-conspirator, Callihan, as an employee.
Stegawski represented himself as a chronic pain management doctor at these clinics and an unnamed clinic located in South Point, Ohio. The government case said the clinics operated as “pill mills” by selling prescriptions for controlled substances, primarily oxycodone, without a legitimate need for the prescriptions. There was no valid doctor-patient relationship and many of the prescriptions were openly sold and diverted.
Stegawski had a DEA registration number that allowed him to order controlled substances for the clinics. Stegawski received a medical degree in Warsaw, Poland in 1977 and was purportedly trained to specialize in anesthesiology. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has suspended and is pursuing permanent revocation of Stegawski’s license to practice medicine.
According to testimony, as many as 40 patients would visit the clinics each weekday. In some cases, customers traveled in excess of 200 miles roundtrip to obtain prescriptions from the doctor. Stegawski knowingly prescribed large amounts of prescription drugs to drug abusers and addicts, who were charged $200 cash per visit and received at most a cursory examination.
During the tenure of the pain clinics, many local pharmacies refused to honor any prescriptions written by Stegawski due to the “large quantities of narcotics” and his “catering to customers with prior drug abuse and arrest histories.”
A United States District Court jury convicted Stegawski in February of one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense prescription drugs, one count of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of maintaining a place for illegal distribution of drugs.
Stegawski and Callihan were charged in an 11-count-indictment by a grand jury on May 16, 2012. Callihan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and dispense prescription drugs and money laundering.
Stewart took the opportunity to commend the cooperative investigation by agents and officers of the agencies named above including IRS Special Agent Robert Mullins, Ohio Board of Pharmacy Agent Jesse Wimberly, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Attorney General DeWine’s Office, the DEA, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless and the Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini, and the Riverside Police Department, as well as Criminal Chief Kenneth L. Parker and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy D. Oakley, who prosecuted the case.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.