Physician Nico Capurro pleaded guilty to one count of structuring money transactions to avoid reporting requirements in connection with cash he received from his involvement with seven “pain clinics” in Lucasville, Jackson, Chillicothe and Hanging Rock.
“Those clinics, including the one is Lucasville, were owned by William Jewell, and operated by either Nico Capurro or Gregory Ebner,” said Fred Alverson, of the U. S. Department of Justice Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati. “Ebner, a Cincinnati physician, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, in January, for money laundering, after operating several southern Ohio pain clinics.”
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said Ebner also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and serve three years of supervised release after serving the 24 months in prison.
According to the indictment against Capurro and William H. Jewell, Jr., Jewell established his first pain clinic, called Lucasville Pain Control Center, on U.S. 23 in Lucasville.
The indictment said the pain clinic essentially was a business whereby illegally synthetic opiod “pain killers” and benzodiazepine class of drugs could be prescribed and obtained through South Shore Pharmacy, in South Shore, Ky., and Value Med Pharmacy in Paintsville, Ky.
The indictment said the Lucasville Pain Control Center opened for about five weeks before closing in the first week of February 2001, only to reopen at another location in Chillicothe.
Two months later, in April 2001, the clinic was relocated to Hanging Rock, and remained open until December 2001, when it closed and subsequently relocated to Jackson.
The indictment read “A practicing attorney from Portsmouth, Ohio, also became involved in the operation of the clinics. Although not present as often, William H. Jewell Jr. maintained control of the ‘pain clinics'.”
The attorney is not identified.
According to a statement of facts filed with Capurro's plea, he manipulated five deposits of cash and cashier's checks into brokerage and bank accounts he owned in order to keep each transaction less than $10,000. Federal law requires financial institutions to report cash transactions of $10,000 or more. Capurro made the deposits between May 2001 and June 2002.
“Capurro also agreed to comply with an audit by the IRS to determine if his activities created any additional tax liability for him,” said U. S. attorney Gregory G. Lockhart. “Capurro also agreed to cooperate with investigations in the ongoing investigation.”
In addition to his involvement with the clinics, he also was the attending physician of Medical Rehabilitation Clinic in Manchester. Lockhart said the clinics accepted cash payments only, ranging from $150 to $250 per patient per visit, and attended to between 30 and 70 patients per day.
None of the clinics reportedly maintained any diagnostic equipment.
Lockhart commended the cooperative investigation by agents from several federal agencies and deputies in the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.
Structuring, a type of money laundering, carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release. No sentencing date has been set.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.