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Chattanooga, Tennessee Pain Clinic Owner Convicted of Drug Trafficking And Financial Crimes

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Chattanooga, Tennessee resident Barbara Lang was convicted in December, 2014, for participating in a conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances. Ms. Lang owned and operated two pain clinics where Xanax and oxycodone were illegally distributed. This crime is sometimes referred to as "drug diversion." She was also convicted of 5 counts of maintaining a drug-involved business and 14 counts of illegally structuring bank transactions to avoid reporting requirements, which is known as "tax structuring." Three others are facing charges on this matter, along with Lang. Included in these three is her daughter, Faith Blake, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances through the two pain clinics that she operated with her mother. She also pleaded guilty to obstructing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, she is charged with failure to appear at a federal court proceeding. Dr. Jerome Sherard, medical director for one of the clinics, and Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances at one of Ms. Lang's clinics as well as another clinic operated by Sherard. 

During the course of the 25-day trial, the jury heard testimony from clinic landlords, neighbors, customers, medical providers, wiretaps, and law enforcement officials. This testimony, along with other evidence provided, suggests that the clinics owned by Lang were functioning as "pill mills," where patients would pay to be written prescriptions for large amounts of controlled substances, such as oxycodone and Xanax. These pills would then be abused by the "patient" or distributed by the recipient. These pills could be obtained without documentation or cause. Sherard and Larmore prescribed narcotics frequently enough to be just below the top 10 out of 20,000 narcotics prescribers in the state. Along with the frequency of prescriptions offered, they often prescribed dangerous combinations and amounts of narcotics. Additionally, these drugs were prescribed even after the "patients" failed drug tests or admitted to abusing or selling the narcotics. Over 7 months, the "pill mills" generated $2 million or more each, $175,000 of which Lang received without reporting to the IRS. When searched, Lang's home was found to contain $234,333 cash and a money-counting machine. As a result of these charges, Ms. Lang faces a maximum sentence of 210 years in prison and fines up to $4 million, with about $1 million already seized. 

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