North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Distribute Suboxone, Oxycodone, other Pain Medications
ABINGDON, Va., – A Dobson, North Carolina man pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to distribute medically illegitimate prescriptions for Schedule II opioids and Suboxone, as well as conspiring to use, in the course of the distribution of controlled substances, the DEA registration number of another person.
According to court documents, Charles Wilson Adams Jr., 50, worked for “Company L” that operated medical clinics in the Western District of Virginia, including in the Galax, Lynchburg, and Christiansburg areas. The clinic focused on pain management and opioid addiction treatment.
Adams worked as a counselor for Company L, though he had not applied to the Virginia Board of Counseling to become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. Adams was referred to inside Company L as “Dr.” but has never been a medical practitioner or possessed the authority to prescribe controlled substances.
Adams admitted that he and other non-medical professionals exerted influence or control over medical decisions and treatment of patients, including the prescribing of Schedule II pain medications and Suboxone, a Schedule III drug used to treat opioid addiction.
As part of his plea, Adams also acknowledged Company L employees pre-signed blank prescriptions for distribution to patients without office visits. Further, at the direction of Company L’s owner and others, employees used DEA registration numbers of medical providers to prescribe Suboxone to patients, even when those providers were in other cities or states and did not see the patients. Adams was aware of Company L’s practices and their illegitimacy yet took part in them anyway.
“Our investigation into Adams’ illegal distribution of highly addictive pain medication at the height of an overdose epidemic, emphasizes his criminal indifference for human life,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Field Office. “Today’s guilty plea emphasizes our commitment to the tireless work of investigating and prosecuting those responsible for fueling opioid addiction and deadly overdoses in our area – saving lives in our communities.”
“Adams chose to use his position to assist in the illegal distribution of powerful opioids rather than their use for legitimate medical purposes, thus causing additional harm to the community,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar stated today. “We are grateful for the extensive investigation conducted by federal, state, and local law enforcement located in three states, whose hard work is holding the defendant accountable for his crimes.”
“This individual put the health of patients and his community in jeopardy by participating in the prescribing of dangerous drugs and other medical treatments indiscriminately when he was not qualified to do so,” said Attorney General Herring. “The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities and families across Virginia, and we will not tolerate healthcare providers who do not handle or prescribe highly addictive drugs appropriately and safely. I want to thank our local, state, and federal partners for their help on this important case as well as my award-winning Medicaid Control Fraud Unit for their continued hard work and dedication.”
“Prescription drugs are to be prescribed for legitimate medical reasons by appropriately licensed medical professionals,” said Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS-OIG will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe from illegal prescription drugs.”
Adams pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to use, in the course of the distribution of controlled substances, the DEA registration number of another, one count of conspiring to distribute Suboxone, and one count of conspiring to distribute oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 29, 2021. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, including offices in southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Department of Health and Human Service are investigating the case, with the assistance of the Carroll County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) Police Department, Christiansburg (Va.) Police Department, Mt. Airy (N.C.) Police Department, Amherst County (Va.) Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Attorney Offices of the Middle District of North Carolina and District of South Carolina.