COLUMBUS, Ohio — One patient was prescribed painkillers even after she was caught faking a urine test, while others paid a doctor to increase their prescriptions, according to documents related to the shutdown this week of a notorious clinic in a region of southern Ohio so identified with painkiller addiction that the office's standard dosage was known as "Portsmouth cocktail" after the nearby county seat.
The Greater Medical Advance clinic in Wheelersburg, an Ohio River city of about 6,000 residents, was a perpetually busy drug house where the owner carried a handgun and tens of thousands of painkillers were dispensed at inflated prices, according to charging documents and search warrants The Associated Press obtained through a public records request.
Authorities allege the clinic, the last remaining "pill mill" in painkiller-plagued Scioto County, was a destination well-known among addicts and dealers and had just one purpose: "to make as much money off illegal drug trafficking and the funding of illegal drug trafficking as possible."
The documents reveal the length to which addicts and dealers will go to get pills and illustrate the mechanics of supply and demand at a time when painkiller overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in more than a dozen states — more than car crashes.
Clinics that critics call pill mills often operate as pain management centers and are known for doing cash-only business with scant patient examinations.
Dr. Victor Georgescu, now facing corruption and drug trafficking charges, told investigators he was scared by goings-on at Greater Medical but needed the work because he had been fired from four previous jobs after suffering a stroke, according to a 2010 request for a search warrant during an investigation of more than two years.
"You don't like what you were doing here," Kevin Kineer, an investigator with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, asked the doctor.
"Right," Georgescu responded.
"You know it's wrong," the agent said.
"Yes," the doctor said.
Columbus defense attorney Mike Miller, who is temporarily representing the 50-year-old Georgescu but doesn't expect to take his case, said he hasn't reviewed the charges yet. Three other people were also charged, including clinic owner George Marshall Adkins, who faces similar charges, as well as a count of carrying a gun while involved in drug trafficking. Adkins often wore a handgun while working, according to documents.
A lawyer who has represented Adkins in the past said the clinic had safeguards against such alleged abuse.
"To my knowledge they ran the place in accordance with the way they were supposed to," said attorney Mike Mearan, of Portsmouth, the seat of Scioto County.
A judge ordered the clinic temporarily closed as a public nuisance, with a hearing next week in which authorities will argue it should be permanently shuttered. The owners of the property operated by Adkins, Billy and Katherine Inmon, deny any involvement with the clinic or knowledge of what was happening there.
"We're conservative people, people of faith, and people that don't stand for anything close to what these people are accused of doing," Billy Inmon, who owns several shopping centers around Ohio, told the AP.
Documents paint a picture of an operation where pills were readily dispensed to just about anybody who could pay.
So many patients brought in non-patients seeking drugs that the clinic had to post a sign limiting the number of visitors, according to a charging document. Husbands and wives often received the same prescriptions, as did people living at the same address, raising suspicions that drugs were prescribed with little or no diagnosis.
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