DETROIT, MI – An indictment was unsealed on Monday, June 21st, 2021, charging the owner and operators of a medical clinic, a doctor, a patient recruiter, and two clinic employees with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, and other opioid-related charges.
Charged in the indictment are:
Janeice Minique Burrell, 36-years-old, of Macomb;
Angelo Martese Smith, 44-years-old, of Macomb;
Dr. Lawrence Mark Sherman, 72-years-old, of Shelby Township;
Peter Burrell, Jr., 52-years-old, of West Bloomfield;
Akeyla Bell, 38-years-old, of Saint Clair Shores; and
Carmen Gilbreth, 36-years-old, of Detroit.
The indictment alleges that from March 2020 through June 2021, the clinic owner, operator, and a doctor conspired with the other defendants to issue and dispense a large number of prescription opioids for supposed “patients” who did not have a legitimate medical need for the drugs. Janeice Minique Burrell owned Tranquility Wellness Center, Inc. (“TWC”), and she and Angelo Martese Smith operated TWC first in Dearborn and currently in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan.
Out of that clinic, Dr. Sherman primarily prescribed Oxycodone and Oxymorphone, two of the most addictive opioids that have high street value. Janeice Burrell and Smith accepted only cash at TWC, and charged patients not based on the service provided, but instead based on the quantity, type, and dosage of prescription opioids that the “patient” received. Janeice Burrell, Smith, and their employees Akeyla Bell and Carmen Gilbreth also charged cash for the creation of fraudulent medical records for the supposed “patients.” Janeice Burrell and Smith paid Dr. Sherman in cash or peer-to-peer money transfer application per controlled substance prescription he authorized.
Peter Burrell, Jr. was one of the patient recruiters/marketers who brought supposed “patients” to TWC to receive unlawful prescriptions from Dr. Sherman. Peter Burrell, Jr. would then fill the prescriptions and sell the prescriptions on the street at a significant profit.
Janeice Burrell, Smith, and Dr. Sherman also are charged with 14 counts of distributing Oxycodone and Oxymorphone pills.
According to the indictment, Dr. Sherman issued more than 441,000 dosage units of Schedule II opioid prescriptions during the course of the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value in excess of $6.6 million.
While most of the unlawful controlled substance prescriptions were paid for in cash, both controlled and non-controlled “maintenance” medications were billed to health care benefit programs by pharmacies. Billings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for medically unnecessary prescription drug medications and maintenance medications during this conspiracy exceeded $85,000.
“This indictment shows our continued commitment to investigate and charge those who fuel the opioid crisis in this state,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin. “This case is particularly troubling in that it involves greedy medical professionals who profited from prescribing and dispensing medically unnecessary drugs to individuals without regard to medical necessity.”
“The diversion of prescription pills into our communities perpetuates the current opioid crisis,” said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “The FBI and its federal partners will continue to target doctors, pharmacists, and the networks that are fueling the epidemic by holding them accountable for their dangerous criminal behavior.”
“Dispensing prescription opioids to individuals who do not have a legitimate medical need is illegal and puts those individuals and others health and safety at risk,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The OIG continues to work diligently with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to identify those who choose to violate the law and exacerbate the opioid epidemic.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew J. Lievense and Alison Furtaw. The Eastern District of Michigan is one of the twelve districts included in the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.
The case was investigated by special agents and task force officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General.
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