PDT Staff Writer
A U.S. District Court jury has convicted a West Portsmouth couple, Nancy Sadler, 49, and Lester “Ape” Sadler, 56, of operating Ohio Medical and Pain Management LLC in Waverly as a continuing criminal enterprise, a crime punishable by at least 20 years and up to life imprisonment. A co-defendant, Sandy Wells, 52, of South Shore, Ky., was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy.
The verdict was returned Wednesday following three days of deliberation after a 10-day trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith. In addition to conviction on the charge of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, the jury convicted clinic owner Nancy Sadler and her husband, Lester Sadler, of one count each of conspiracy and maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing drugs. The jury also convicted Nancy Sadler of one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering for the illegal purchase and sale of 40,200 units of hydrocodone to purchase a convertible. The Sadlers face a minimum of 20 years for the continuing criminal enterprise conviction, and up to 20 years on all the other convictions. The jury also found the Sadlers not guilty on 23 counts of illegal distribution of drugs, although that conduct was considered in reaching the guilty verdict on the continuing criminal enterprise count.
Beckwith remanded the Sadlers to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and ordered them held pending sentencing. She will schedule sentencing following a pre-sentence investigation by the court.
The government is seeking forfeiture of $1.8 million based on testimony presented during the trial that the Sadlers were making $900,000 a year at the clinic.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, testimony presented during the trial proved that the clinic operated as a “pill mill” by selling prescriptions for controlled substances (usually oxycodone), without a legitimate medical need for the prescriptions. Authorities said many of the prescriptions were openly sold and diverted. Testimony was presented during the trial that the clinic was usually open three or four days per week. New customers were normally charged $180 for the initial visit. Returning customers were charged $125 to $150 per visit. Witnesses testified that the customers received no genuine examination by a physician. Instead, witnesses said the clinic staff would often prepare the medical charts and prescription forms in advance, sit the customer down with the physician, and then the physician would sign the prescription at her desk.
Three others charged in the indictment that was returned in August 2010 have pleaded guilty. Lisa Clevenger, 50, of Stoutsville and a sister of Nancy Sadler, pleaded guilty Feb. 29 to one count of maintaining drug-involved premises. Lester Sadler’s father, James Sadler, 80, of West Portsmouth pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to one count of conspiracy. Brenda Banks, 59, of Columbus, formerly a physician at the clinic, pleaded guilty April 30 to one count of acquiring or possessing a controlled substance through deception, punishable by up to four years in prison. All three are awaiting sentencing.
“This case grew from an ongoing investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies into the problem of prescription drug diversion,” Stewart said. “Prescription drug diversion and the related crimes that accompany it are emerging as an increasing threat to the region’s safety.”
“This indictment underscores DEA’s commitment to bring to justice those who would betray their promise to provide legitimate medical care to the community,” Corso said. “The indictment alleges that the defendants in this case benefited financially on the backs of other’s misery. When DEA uncovers evidence of this type of illegal diversion of legitimate pharmaceuticals by health care professionals, we will treat them in the same manner as any other street dealer peddling cocaine or heroin.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.