LONDON — A Floyd County man has admitted heading a drug ring responsible for bringing in 200,000 pain pills from other states to be sold and abused in Eastern Kentucky.
Timothy Wayne Hall, 46, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in London to operating a continuing criminal enterprise from 2001 to the summer of 2007, when he was arrested.
Hall acknowledged arranging for other people to go to a doctor's office in Philadelphia — a drive of 10 hours or more from Floyd County — to get prescriptions for methadone, then selling them in his home area.
Hall also had people buy 80-milligram OxyContin pills in Michigan for resale.
At one time, the drug ring was thought to be the biggest illicit distributor of OxyContin and methadone in Eastern Kentucky, authorities said.
"This pill amount being poured into Pike and Floyd counties was disastrous," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West, the prosecutor.
The 200,000 pills Hall acknowledged bringing to Kentucky would have had a street value of millions of dollars.
Hall's case illustrates a drug problem that police and prosecutors say has grown in recent years: Kentuckians traveling to other states to get prescriptions for pain pills and other narcotics.
"This issue has become the forefront for anyone working in narcotics investigations," said Capt. Kevin Payne, commander of the state police drug enforcement and special investigations unit covering the eastern half of the state.
Enforcement in Kentucky and the state's system for monitoring prescriptions, known as KASPER, help explain the trend.
Addicts and traffickers know prescriptions are tracked in Kentucky, so they go out of state to avoid that scrutiny, police say.
Florida is a key destination for Kentuckians seeking pills to abuse and sell because it has no prescription-tracking system. But people from Kentucky also have gone to a number of other states to get pills, court documents show.
There were patient files on 144 people from Eastern Kentucky at the Philadelphia clinic where Hall and others went, said Randy Hunter, a state police detective who investigated the case.
Doctors who ask few questions sometimes aid Kentuckians' pursuit of pills in other states.
Another man charged with Hall, Damon Newsome, said in a court document that when people in the drug ring went to the doctor's office in Philadelphia, the examinations, "if performed, were cursory and fraudulent."
Randy Weiss, a doctor, said in a court document that when he started working at the Urgent Care clinic in Philadelphia in mid-2005, he raised concerns about the high number of Kentucky residents coming in and the large amounts of methadone they were getting. But an Urgent Care official in Louisiana had him consult with another company doctor, who said the prescriptions were OK, Weiss said.
Weiss said he eventually started cutting back on the prescriptions to Kentuckians. However, he pleaded guilty to improperly writing prescriptions for 11,000 methadone pills to Hall and others in the drug ring, who paid $500 cash for an office visit.
A Cincinnati doctor, Lloyd Stanley Naramore, also is charged with Hall in the conspiracy.
A Cincinnati pharmacist, Thomas Stark, has pleaded guilty in the case to filling prescriptions for thousands of pain pills Naramore wrote for Kentucky residents. Stark said he should have known the prescriptions weren't for a legitimate medical purpose.
A total of 22 people, including Hall's daughter, have been charged in Kentucky in connection with the drug conspiracy Hall organized. Most have pleaded guilty.
The investigation is continuing, said West, the prosecutor.
Hall said in court Wednesday that he has an 8th-grade education and received disability payments before his arrest because he had a learning disability and had hurt his back in a car wreck. He also had a serious drug addiction for years.
Hall faces a minimum of 20 years in prison, but could get a life sentence. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 6.