Crime

Johnson County pain clinic raided for second time

Wednesday was a bad day to show up impaired at a Johnson County pain clinic.

As state and federal authorities searched the clinic in an investigation of potential improper drug prescribing, police arrested 29 people who had come to the office, according to a news release from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

Charges against the people included public intoxication and driving under the influence. A number of people also were arrested on outstanding warrants, according to the release.

The raid was the second in less than a year at the Care More Pain Management clinic. Authorities also searched the business in February. A federal grand jury later charged a doctor who had worked there, Richard W. Albert, with conspiring to illegally prescribe thousands of pain pills that fed the region's debilitating level of drug abuse.

Albert operated what authorities described as a pill mill, writing prescriptions to addicts and traffickers after little or no examination in return for cash.

Authorities began investigating Albert in early 2009, when he worked at Care More, after nearby businesspeople complained about large numbers of people loitering in the parking lot who appeared to be impaired.

Albert later wrote prescriptions at other locations, including his home.

He pleaded guilty in December, admitting he illegally prescribed 50,000 pain pills.

However, the news release from Attorney General Jack Conway's office said it was estimated that Albert actually was prescribing more than 100,000 pills a month.

Albert is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Authorities say they have seen a troubling resurgence in pill mills in Kentucky the last couple of years, perhaps driven in part by efforts to choke off a tide of pills coming in from Florida.

Conway and legislators plan to push measures in the state legislature to increase controls on pain clinics.

The arrests at the Care More office Wednesday came as authorities searched it as part of an investigation by Conway's office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration "into doctors who overprescribe pain medications," according to the news release.

State police, the sheriff's offices in Johnson and Floyd counties, and the Paintsville and Prestonsburg police departments took part.

No one employed by the clinic was arrested Wednesday.

However, a doctor who had worked there, Rano S. Bofill, agreed to surrender his license in an order entered last week with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.

The order said authorities became concerned in August with the volume of controlled-substance prescriptions Bofill was writing at Care More.

When investigators talked to Bofill that month, he told them he'd been recruited to work at the clinic in 2009 and was paid $6,000 a week. Bofill told investigators he was not comfortable with the amount of prescriptions being issued from the clinic and with his limited contact with patients, according to the order.

Bofill "agreed that his practices at Care More Pain Management departed from or failed to conform to acceptable and prevailing medical practices" in Kentucky, according to the order.

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