Tulsa, Oklahoma - An Owasso physician pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to leading multiple conspiracies to write fraudulent opioid prescriptions in an effort to support his drug habit.
Special Agent in Charge Clyde E. Shelley, Jr., of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Attorney Trent Shores announced that Dr. Jeremy David Thomas, 42, was convicted of drug conspiracies in five separate federal cases.
Today’s guilty pleas stem from Thomas’ issuance of fraudulent prescriptions for the opioid hydrocodone to multiple co-conspirators who were his patients. His accomplices then filled the prescriptions at area pharmacies and delivered some or all of the hydrocodone tablets to Thomas. As a result of their illegal pill-sharing activity, Thomas and his co-conspirators diverted more than 13,740 doses of the drug during a two year period, mainly for the physician’s illegal personal use.
“The number of Americans dying each day from opioid overdoses is alarming,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Salter of DEA’s Oklahoma District Office. “There are few, if any, communities that have been spared by this epidemic. The elimination of this drug trafficking organization will absolutely spare lives. While the vast majority of the medical professionals in this country are committed to saving lives, there are a few who are merely drug dealers hiding behind lab coats, and driven by greed. The DEA in Oklahoma, in collaboration with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who illegally diverts or traffics opioids in our communities. The success of this case is the direct result of outstanding collaboration among the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Northern District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the DEA Tulsa Resident Office.”
Investigators from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office played a significant role in investigating the pill-sharing conspiracy.
"This case illustrates the far-reaching impact of opioid abuse and its effects across society,” said Rogers County District Attorney Matthew J. Ballard. “I appreciate the work by the United States' Attorney's Office and law enforcement to remove the source of these illegally diverted drugs.”
Also implicated in the drug conspiracies are Jeffrey Lee Koger, 47, of Claremore; Joseph Marcus Jones, 36, of Claremore; Toni Dawn Martin, 49, of Owasso; Shawn Del Martin, 50, of Owasso; and Chad Lee Choat, 46, of Claremore.
U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell set Thomas’ sentencing for Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. At that time, Thomas faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine for each count of drug conspiracy and distribution.
Thomas was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick prosecuted the case. AUSA McCormick is the Lead Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
This investigation and resulting conviction are part of the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 National Healthcare Fraud Takedown initiative, the largest ever healthcare fraud enforcement action. The opioid related enforcement action charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles in illegally prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
Painkillers are involved in more than 80 percent of the prescription drug-related overdose deaths in Oklahoma and hundreds of Oklahomans die each year due to these overdoses.