February 20, 2018: U.S. Attorney Announces 69-count Indictment Charging Owners, Managers and Physicians Associated with Hope Clinic

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Food and Drug Administration 
Office of Criminal Investigations

 

United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced the unsealing of a 69-count indictment charging a total of 12 individuals with operating a “pill mill.”  The indictment charges the owners, managers and physicians associated with HOPE Clinic, which operated as a purported pain management clinic in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston, West Virginia, as well as Wytheville, Virginia, and a related company, with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances, not for legitimate medical purposes and outside the usual course of professional practice, from November 2010 to June 2015.   

United States Attorney Mike Stuart was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Philadelphia Regional Office and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Arp, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office.  “I commend the work of my team, under the leadership of AUSAs Monica Coleman and Meredith Thomas and the critical work of our law enforcement partners,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  Stuart commended the investigation conducted by agents with:

·       U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, OIG

·       Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations

·       Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI)

·       Federal Bureau of Investigation

·       Drug Enforcement Administration

·       West Virginia State Police

·       Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT)

·       Beckley Police Department

·       Kentucky State Police

·       Harrison County (KY) Sheriff’s Department

·       Appalachia HIDTA

The charges announced today aggressively target medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other dangerous controlled substances. “As of today, there are 69 counts.  10 doctors in total. Clinics from Beckley to Beaver, and Charleston to Wytheville. Lots and lots of pills, and even more misery,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.   Stuart continued, “Home-grown drug dealers hidden behind the veil of a doctor’s lab coat, a medical degree and a prescription pad are every bit as bad as the heroin dealers from Detroit who bring their poisons to West Virginia.  Today’s 69-count indictment is the continuation of our efforts to hold accountable those who prey on the good citizens of West Virginia.”

The following individuals are charged in the indictment: James H. Blume, Jr., D.O, Mark T. Radcliffe, Joshua Radcliffe, Michael T. Moran, M.D., Sanjay Mehta, D.O., Brian Gullett, D.O., Vernon Stanley, M.D., Mark Clarkson, D.O., William Easley, D.O., Paul W. Burke, M.D., Roswell Tempest Lowry, M.D., and Teresa Emerson, LNP. “We are committed to protecting all those in government health programs,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Working side by side with our law enforcement partners we will aggressively investigate charges of medical providers needlessly prescribing deadly opioids.” 

In addition to the conspiracy charge, the indictment charges defendants Blume and Mark Radcliffe with maintaining drug-involved premises in Beckley, Beaver and Charleston, and includes 62 counts charging several physicians with distribution of controlled substances not for legitimate medical purposes and outside the usual course of professional practice. The indictment also charges Sanjay Mehta, D.O., a former physician at the Beckley and Beaver HOPE Clinic locations, with two counts of distribution of controlled substances causing death, and charges 10 of the defendants with conspiracy to launder drug proceeds by paying bonuses to HOPE Clinic physicians and employees of Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacists Fighting Diversion, Inc. (PPPFD), to encourage continued prescribing of Schedule II narcotics to customers.   

According to the indictment, defendant James H. Blume, Jr., D.O., the owner of the HOPE Clinic, entered into a Physician Practice Management Agreement with defendant Mark T. Radcliffe, owner of PPPFD, to be the practice manager of the HOPE Clinic. The indictment alleges that together Blume and Radcliffe operated HOPE Clinic as a cash-based business that prescribed oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances to customers, while refusing to accept insurance, charging in-state customers at least $275 for an initial appointment, and at least $160 for each subsequent appointment.  Out of state customers paid as much as $330 for initial visits and at least $185 for subsequent visits.   The indictment alleges that HOPE Clinic practitioners prescribed thousands of oxycodone-based pills to individual customers and some HOPE Clinic locations, including Beaver and Charleston, averaged 65 or more customers a day during a 10-hour workday with only one practitioner working.  In addition, the indictment alleges that Blume and Mark T. Radcliffe contracted the services of physicians without any knowledge of pain management who consistently conducted cursory, incomplete, or no medical examinations of Clinic customers and provided large amounts of Schedule II prescription medications to customers that they knew, and had reasonable cause to believe, were drug addicts. The indictment further alleges that Mark T. Radcliffe and his son, Joshua Radcliffe, neither of whom had any formal medical education or training, instructed medical practitioners at HOPE Clinic to provide customers with prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, sometimes in direct contrast with the practitioners’ clinical opinions.

“Those who facilitate the abuse of controlled dangerous substances are negatively impacting our entire community and will be held accountable,” said Kimberly Lappin, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office.  “Today’s indictment is a reminder that IRS-CI will remain vigilant in our financial investigations and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat this type of conduct.”

If convicted on all charges as alleged in the indictment, Dr. Blume and Mark Radcliffe face up to 100 years; Joshua Radcliffe faces up to 20 years; Teresa Emerson faces up to 20 years; Michael Moran faces up to 60 years; Sanjay Mehta faces a forty year mandatory minimum sentence up to life imprisonment; Vernon Stanley faces up to 240 years; Brian Gullett faces up to 340 years; Mark Clarkson faces up to 80 years; William Earley faces up to 200 years; Paul Burke faces up to 180 years; and Roswell Tempest Lowry faces up to 120 years. In a related case, John Pellegrini faces up to 20 years imprisonment for his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering.   

This case is part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District. 

Please find a link to the Indictment and Information below.

Indictment

Information

Please note:  An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

 

Topic(s): 

Drug Trafficking

Opioids

Prescription Drugs

 

Component(s): 

USAO – West Virginia, Southern

 

 

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February 14, 2018: Palmer Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Import Prescription Drugs from Pakistan

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Food and Drug Administration 
Office of Criminal Investigations

 

BOSTON – A Palmer man was sentenced for conspiring to import prescription drugs from Pakistan.

Harry Aliengena, 65, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. In November 2017, Aliengena pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import controlled substances, two counts of felony introduction of misbranded drugs with intent to defraud or mislead, and one count of misdemeanor introduction of misbranded drugs.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, Aliengena conspired to import prescription drugs from Pakistan into the United States and distributed misbranded drugs to U.S. customers. Aliengena communicated regularly with a Pakistani company and ordered various drugs – including Ritalin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, Adderall, and Restoril – all DEA controlled substances. Aliengena then reshipped a portion of these drugs to customers in the United States on behalf of the Pakistani company in return for payments and discounts on drugs for his personal use.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Jeffrey Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office; and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Deepika Bains Shukla of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office prosecuted the case.

 

Topic(s): 

Drug Trafficking

Opioids

Prescription Drugs

 

Component(s): 

USAO – Massachusetts

 

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New Spectre/Meltdown Variants

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Political Risk a Major Concern for Multinational Businesses in 2018

According to a paper by Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and innovative risk management solutions, political risk will remain a major concern for multinational businesses in 2018, driven by events including the North Korea missile crisis, ongoing Brexit negotiations, and trade protectionism.

Marsh’s 2018 Political Risk Map is based on data from BMI Research, a leading source of independent political, macroeconomic, financial, and industry risk analysis. This interactive map rates countries on the basis of political and economic stability and gives insight into where risks are most likely to emerge. The map can be used to help multinationals make more informed decisions about how to deploy their financial resources in the year ahead.

Key findings of the 2018 Political Risk Map include:

  • Several Latin American countries – including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela – will hold presidential and legislative elections in 2018, which has led to a deterioration in their short-term political risk scores (STPRI).
  • The African region saw some of the biggest improvements in political risk scores in 2018, although uncertainty around elections and successions have led to sharp increases in political risk in Kenya, Gabon, and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • The risk of increased global trade protectionism is a growing threat. Trade giants, such as the US, are likely to seek further restrictions in 2018, after a brief decline in such measures being implemented in 2017.
  • In Europe, the UK’s negotiations to exit the European Union continue to loom over the political risk landscape, while political instability persists in Spain and Italy’s general election in March raises concerns over the rise of anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties.

Evan Freely, Global Practice Leader, Credit Specialties, Marsh, said: “Social instability, adverse government actions, and terrorist threats are among the most common political risks that multinational organizations now face when trading or investing in foreign countries. While political risks are often not directly controllable in this complex and ever-changing environment, in many instances they can be mitigated through credit and political risk insurance, providing greater confidence in the benefits of these opportunities in potentially unstable areas of the world.”

https://www.marsh.com/us/campaigns/political-risk-map-2018.html

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Verizon Mobile Security Index: Companies are Unprepared for Cyberattacks

A new report from Verizon found that organizations across numerous industries compromised mobile data security because of speed to market priorities and a lack of threat awareness according to survey respondents. As business usage of mobile devices, the Internet of Things and other mobile applications accelerates, Verizon’s inaugural Mobile Security Index 2018 seeks to raise awareness of the current mobile security landscape, including growing threats, and offer recommendations for protecting the mobile enterprise.

“As mobility becomes more integral to business operations in today’s digital economy – from supply chain management to IoT-enabled sensors to customer-facing mobile apps – protecting mobile platforms is critical,” said Thomas J. Fox, senior vice president with Verizon. “Securing the multitude of mobile devices that connect to public and private networks and platforms is paramount for protecting corporate assets and brand integrity.”

Key findings include:

  • Nearly a third (32%) of organizations surveyed admitted to sacrificing mobile security to improve business performance.  
     
  • 93% of organizations agreed that mobile devices present a serious and growing threat. Also, 20% of surveyed organizations that use IoT devices cite these as their most significant concern.
     
  • 79% said that disruption of their business operations is an even greater threat than the theft of data.
     
  • 79% of the organizations fear that employee misuse, either accidentally or intentionally, is a significant concern. And 39% of organizations that allow employees to use their own devices for business purposes (known as BYOD) ranked this as their top concern.
     
  • A majority of organizations (62%) feel that a lack of understanding of threats and solutions are a barrier to mobile security. Less than 1/3 of organizations (33%) use mobile endpoint security and less than half (47%) said they use device encryption. Only 31% are using Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).
     
  • Only one in seven organizations surveyed (14%) had implemented the most basic cybersecurity practices. Less than two fifths (39%) change all default passwords; only 38% use strong two-factor authentication on their mobile devices; and, only 59% restrict which apps employees can download from the Internet to their mobile devices.
     
  • Though a number of vertical industries are represented in the study, healthcare and the public sector were hit especially hard. More than a third of healthcare organizations (35%) and 33% of public sector entities said they had suffered data loss or downtime due to a mobile device security incident.   

The Index offers a comprehensive set of recommendations for protecting the mobile enterprise. Some of these include:

  • Reduce the risk of malicious applications: Implement policies that govern which apps can be downloaded by employees and create a custom app store to build a more secure environment. Also, deploy application management software that scans apps for vulnerabilities.
     
  • Improve device management:  Ensure that all default passwords are changed; deploy mobile endpoint security and threat detection to all devices; and, implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).
     
  • Increase user/employee awareness: Implement a strong password policy and ensure adherence, provide regular security training and test employee awareness annually; regularly review employee access to systems and data; and, create an incident response plan to help reduce damage caused by a security incident.

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/02/21/1372451/0/en/New-Verizon-study-reveals-many-organizations-prioritized-business-performance-at-the-cost-of-mobile-enterprise-security.html

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