Houston doctor admits role in Pike County drug ring

A Houston doctor has admitted that he helped feed a drug ring in Eastern Kentucky by writing prescriptions for unusually large amounts of pills to Pike County residents.

Linda J. Roos pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to one count of conspiring to distribute drugs.

Her proposed plea agreement calls for a sentence of six years in prison, a fine of $100,000 and surrender of her medical license.

The proposed sentence is not binding on U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar, who is scheduled to sentence Roos on Sept. 15.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram, who took Roos' plea, ordered her jailed after the hearing Wednesday.

Roos' attorney requested that she be released pending sentencing, saying that Roos cares for her ill mother and that her partner is pregnant. Ingram said he would recommend denying the motion, according to court records.

The case involving Roos is an example of a problem that has been common in recent years: Kentucky residents going to doctors in other states to get prescriptions, then abusing or selling the pills at home.

She was charged last year with eight Kentucky residents, including Pike County pharmacist James Ronald Huffman, with taking part in a scheme to put tens of thousands of pills on the street.

Roos wrote prescriptions for more than 125,000 pills to 10 Pike County residents between September 2006 and July 2011, according to her plea deal.

Roos acknowledged that she "consciously disregarded" clear evidence that some of the pills were being diverted to the black market.

The people from Kentucky paid cash for office visits. Roos wrote them prescriptions, sometimes for more than 1,000 pills a visit, after little or no examination, according to court records.

Roos' office faxed the prescriptions to Huffman's pharmacy so the pill orders would be waiting on people when they got home, according to court documents.

The Kentucky residents didn't even have to go to Houston. They could send a fax, make a payment, and Roos would write prescriptions, according to an affidavit from Virgil D. Ray, an FBI task force officer.

Authorities in Kentucky started investigating Roos after raiding the home of a suspected drug dealer in Pike County and finding pill bottles and appointment cards tied to Roos' office, according to a court document.

Huffman, who operated Marrowbone Hometown Pharmacy, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound soon after the charges in the case were unsealed last year, according to a court document.

Six others charged in the case have said they will plead guilty. They include Dennis Varney, identified as the person who ran the drug ring in Pike County and paid expenses for others to go to Texas and get prescriptions from Roos.

Beverly Lockhart, who was Huffman's sister and worked at his pharmacy, is fighting the charges.

Huffman might have felt bad about getting Lockhart "wrongfully indicted," her attorney said in one motion.