Owner of pain clinics in Georgetown, Dry Ridge is convicted on 21 charges

bestep@herald-leader.comJune 21, 2013 

The owner of clinics in Georgetown and Dry Ridge that illegally dispensed tens of thousands of pills has been convicted on 21 criminal charges, according to U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.

A jury in federal court convicted Ernest William Singleton, 45, on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, conspiracy and maintaining a drug-involved premise.

"Mr. Singleton is a drug dealer who used his business as a front for his criminal scheme," Harvey said in a news release.

The jury convicted Singleton on Thursday.

Singleton operated Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management in Georgetown and Grant County Wellness Center in Dry Ridge, according to court records.

Authorities argued the clinics were classic "pill mills" — places where doctors prescribe powerful pain pills and other narcotics after doing little or no physical examination, in return for cash from drug addicts.

Testimony at Singleton's trial showed he pressured doctors to see as many patients as possible and influenced them to overprescribe, Harvey said.

Gregory Bruce White, a doctor who worked at the clinics, said Singleton told him and other doctors to spend no more than five minutes with returning patients, which White acknowledged was not adequate.

People who came to the clinics paid $250 in cash for the visit and $200 at each monthly follow-up visit, according to a document in White's case.

Investigators estimated about 5,000 people came to the clinics during the conspiracy, which started in late 2010, according to the news release.

Singleton closed the Kentucky clinics last year and opened a facility in Jeffersontown, Ind., according to court records.

White and another doctor who worked for Singleton, Lea Marlow, have pleaded guilty but have not been sentenced.

Singleton faces up to 20 years in prison on both the drug and money-laundering charges, according to Harvey's office.

He is to be sentenced in October. His businesses face a fine of up to $250,000.

Singleton also will have to forfeit a substantial amount of property, including a house, farmland, more than 40 pieces of farm equipment, more than 20 guns and more than $427,000, according to Harvey's office.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1

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