By SUSAN SHARP
A LaFollette clinic that drew concern and has since shut down appears to have been a pay as you go opioid mill.
Four people affiliated with the LaFollette Wellness Center, once located across from Woodson Mall, were indicted last week by a federal grand jury. The indictment spares no words in saying the practice was writing prescriptions in exchange for cash. Dr. Henry Babenco (58 of Paducah, Kentucky), Sharon Naylor (53 of Jacksboro, a nurse practitioner), Alicia Taylor (29 of Oneida, a physician assistant), and Gregory Madron (54 of Jacksboro, who worked in the office) are all facing multiple counts following the indictment.
See the full FBI news release HERE.
They are all charged with conspiracy to distribute schedule II narctotics. Babenco and Naylor face additional charges of money laundering.
Online information billed the clinic as “pain management specialist.” Babenco, a graduate of the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine, claimed on several online sites to be a “specialist” in helping patients cope with chronic pain.
Information released from federal authorties in the case indicated an undercover operation had been in play since 2017. Between June 2017 and March 2018, federal authorities documented seven instances when the LaFollette Wellness Center staff wrote prescriptions for Morphine, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone “outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.”
The six-page indictment is found HERE.
And while the staff at the defunct clinic is facing jail time if convicted, the federal government is also going after their bank accounts.
If they are convicted, authorities want any property obtained through the use of their ill-gotten gains, the indictment said. In the event they no longer have the items, they are located outside the jurisdiction of the court, are now mixed in with other’s property or have lost value, the government is willing to accept something of equal value.
Babenco and Naylor also face money laundering charges. Naylor is alleged to have attempted an $85,000 transfer of funds in 2017 and Babenco is alleged to have attempted a $35,000 transfer in 2018. Authorities alleged the funds used by the two were connected to the LaFollette Wellness Center prescription scam.
“Let me be clear. If so-called medical professionals behave like drug dealers, the Department of Justice is going to treat them like drug dealers,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski after the indictments were released. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/23/2019-6AM)