Doctor accused of illegally distributing drugs at Paintsville clinic plans to plead guilty

he's accused of running 'pill mill,' faces up to 20 years

bestep@herald-leader.comDecember 7, 2011 

A doctor accused of illegally distributing drugs at a Paintsville clinic plans to plead guilty, according to a court motion.

Richard W. Albert had been scheduled to go to trial next week on a federal drug charge, but his attorney filed a motion Tuesday seeking a hearing for Albert to plead guilty.

A grand jury charged Albert in July with conspiring to distribute prescription drugs without a legitimate medical reason between January 2008 and Feb. 16, 2011.

That last date was the day authorities raided Albert's house and a clinic where he'd worked.

Albert worked at what is commonly called a "pill mill," writing prescriptions for pain pills and other narcotics for dozens of people a day, often with little or no examination, an investigator said in a sworn statement.

The clinic, which investigators say fed the region's crippling drug addiction, generated a lot of cash. In January 2011, Albert's weekly pay was $17,000 to $21,000, according to a statement by Lynne Thompson, an investigator assigned to a federal drug task force.

Thompson said she began investigating Albert in January 2009. Paintsville police had contacted the Attorney General's Office after checking complaints from nearby businesses about excessive traffic at the clinic and people loitering in the parking lot who appeared to be on drugs, Thompson said.

Authorities watched the clinic and saw people who limped or staggered in, but later came out with prescriptions and no limp, Thompson said.

Albert is accused of conspiring with others who were not named in the indictment. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

The indictment included a forfeiture count under which the government seeks to take more than $530,000 Albert had in bank and investment accounts.

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