Why it’s so hard to break an opioid addiction
A physician convicted in a conspiracy that added to the drug epidemic in southeastern Kentucky has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Timothy D. Gowder also was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and $200,000 in restitution.
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier ordered that $130,000 in restitution go to the Kentucky Crime Victims Compensation Board and $70,000 to the state Division of Substance Abuse.
Wier sentenced Gowder, 72, on Aug. 6 in federal court in London.
On Friday, Wier sentenced a Florida man who was a partner in the clinic, 56-year-old Anwar Mithavayani, to 25 years in prison.
Wier also fined Mithavayani $500,000 and ordered him to pay $400,000 in restitution, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr.
The clinic involved in the case was called the Tennessee Pain Institute, near Chattanooga.
The clinic was actually “a front for writing narcotics,” or pill mill, with carloads of people from Eastern Kentucky driving down to get prescriptions for oxydocone pain pills, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Rosenberg told jurors at the trial for Gowder and the business owners.
More than half of the clinic’s customers were from Kentucky.. The clinic charged people cash rather than accepting public insurance, and operators made people drop off the patients and park elsewhere to reduce the chance that a crowded parking lot would draw attention from police, Rosenberg said.
The Kentucky residents brought back many of the pills for drug dealers to sell, according to Larry Karr, a Laurel County man who pleaded guilty in the case.
Gowder, Mithavayani and the other partner in the clinic, Pete Anthony Tyndale, were responsible for the illegal distribution of 1.6 million oxycodone pills, which are a type of drug called opioids, as well as hundreds of thousands of other pills such as Xanax, according to Duncan’s office.
“The defendants’ callous actions undoubtedly contributed to the current opioid crisis,” Duncan said in a news release.
Authorities charged that some people overdosed and died after getting pills at the clinic. The clinic kept a separate file cabinet for the names of deceased patients, Rosenberg told jurors.
Jurors convicted Gowder of conspiring to illegally distribute pain medication and of aiding in financial transactions involving drug proceeds.
However, theydid not hold him responsible for overdose deaths.
Jurors also convicted the clinic operators on charges that included conspiring to distribute pain pills in Laurel, Bell, Knox, Whitley and McCreary counties.
The scheme grossed at least $8.1 million between January 2009 and August 2017, the indictment charged.
Karr is serving a nine-year sentence. Tyndale and James Bradley Combs, another Kentucky man convicted in the case, have not been sentenced.