By Frank Lewis
A former Wheelersburg pain clinic operator, her father and a Portsmouth pharmacist have all been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and those charges carry possible life in prison sentences if connections are made to the deaths of patients.
On Wednesday evening, a federal grand jury charged Margaret “Margy” Temponeras, 50, of Portsmouth, John Temponeras, 80, of Portsmouth, and Raymond Fankell, 60, of Wheelersburg, with illegally running a pain clinic and distributing pain killers not for a legitimate purpose and outside the scope of medical practice in an indictment returned in Cincinnati.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, Steven W. Schierholt, Executive Director, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, and the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) announced the indictment returned on Wednesday.
The indictment alleges that Margaret Temponeras and John Temponeras were physicians specializing in family practice and OBGYN respectively, who changed their medical focus to pain management and began operating Unique Pain Management LLC in Wheelersburg. Margaret Temponeras also opened Unique Relief LLC in Wheelersburg. Raymond Fankell owned and operated Prime Pharmacy Group Inc., doing business as Medi-Mart Pharmacy in Portsmouth.
It is alleged that all three defendants dispensed diazepam, hydrocodone and oxycodone not for a legitimate purpose and outside the scope of medical practice. Margaret and John Temponeras allegedly “examined” more than 20 customers per day, and provided large amounts of prescription medications to customers that they knew or had a reasonable cause to believe were drug addicts or diverting or selling the medication.
The five-count indictment states that in furtherance of the conspiracy, the father and daughter would charge customers cash amounts that started at approximately $200 per office visit; they would not accept insurance payments. They allegedly referred patients to Fankell to have Fankell fill prescriptions. The court document also indicates that at least eight individuals were found dead after consuming medications prescribed by and dispensed from the defendants.
The three were charged with two counts of illegally distributing medication, which each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a million dollar fine; these charges also carry an enhanced penalty of 20 years to life in prison if death resulted. John Temponeras and Raymond Fankell were charged with one count and Margaret Temponeras with two counts of maintaining a place for the purpose of distributing controlled substance, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Stewart commended the investigation of the case by the DEA, FBI, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, and Ohio HIDTA.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.