Two people have pleaded guilty to laundering drug money they got by illegally distributing thousands of prescription pills to people from Northeastern Kentucky.
Jody L. Robinson, 38, of Portsmouth, Ohio, and William J. Muldoon Jr., 34, of Margate, Fla., were involved with pain clinics in Ohio and Florida that court records describe as textbook pill mills.
People from Boyd, Greenup and Lawrence counties in Kentucky were among the drug addicts and traffickers who traveled to the clinic in Florida, and later the one in Ohio, to get pain pills and anti-anxiety medicine that they abused or sold when they returned home, according to court records.
Robinson and Muldoon pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Covington. They could face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced next May.
Robinson is only the second pain-clinic owner convicted in the federal Eastern District of Kentucky on charges related to running a pill mill, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
Several doctors have been convicted in the district for improperly prescribing pills.
In Robinson's case, charges are pending against Clara Rodriguez-Iznaga, a doctor who wrote prescriptions at the Florida clinic that Robinson operated.
The idea to operate a pill mill came up in 2007, Robinson said in his plea deal. He was working in the auto-body repair business in Ohio, a job that involved "long hours at hard labor," when someone told him he could make a lot of money operating a pain clinic in Florida, Robinson said in his plea.
At the time, there was little regulation of pain clinics in Florida, and the state was notorious for the ease with which people from other states could get prescriptions for powerful pills.
Robinson said he went to Fort Lauderdale to check on the clinics and was able to easily get pills. At the second clinic he visited, he met Rodriguez-Iznaga, and they started discussing opening a clinic, according to the plea document.
After negotiating a 50-50 split of the office fee, the two opened Florida Global Medical in Plantation, Fla., in summer 2008.
The driving factor in their involvement "was the need to make money in a short period of time," according to Robinson's plea.
A man from northeastern Kentucky, William Ossie Lucas, said in a related case that the office fee at the clinic was $200, and the prescriptions, which he filled at the clinic before coming home to sell the pills, were $1,200 to $1,500.
Rodriguez-Iznaga did little, if any, medical examination of the patients, Robinson said in his plea deal.
After Rodriguez-Iznaga complained that not enough patients were coming in, Robinson made efforts to bring in more business, calling people on a list of patients he got from an MRI business and passing out flyers offering a discount for people who referred new customers, he said.
He also had people from Northeastern Kentucky recruit business for the Florida clinic, and he hired Muldoon to set up a Web site.
Muldoon had done Web design and information technology work, but he was unemployed when Robinson called him, according to court documents.
Robinson said he made at least $400,000 from July to December 2008, and Rodriguez-Iznaga made more than $500,000. Muldoon said Robinson gambled away large amounts of cash at casinos.
In 2009, in part because of media scrutiny of pill mills in Florida, Robinson set up a pain clinic in Portsmouth, Ohio, according to his plea deal.
When Muldoon asked him why he was setting up the new clinic, Robinson responded, "Where do you think all these patients are coming from?" according to Muldoon's plea deal.
Robinson told him the people getting pills at the Florida site were from Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Authorities raided Robinson's clinics in September 2009.
Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1.