XENIA — A former Bellbrook doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven felony charges related to the operation of an alleged “pill mill” between 2009 and 2014.
As part of plea negotiations, Dr. John Moore, 61, of Centerville, pleaded guilty to a Medicaid fraud charge, four trafficking in drugs charges, a theft charge and a permitting drug abuse charge in Greene County Common Pleas Court. Moore could face a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, none of which is mandatory. As part of his plea, Moore will also be forced to pay about $85,000 in restitution.
According to a statement – agreed upon by the prosecution and the defense – read in court Tuesday by Ohio Assistant Attorney General Melissa Schiffel, Moore “deviated from accepted prescription rules and regulations” with a subset of patients at his medical practice at Synergistic Health Centers on Lakeman Drive in Bellbrook.
“There were insufficient records from which to conclude that Dr. Moore met the standard of care in prescribing these controlled substances to his patients,” Schiffel stated.
“Contributing factors to Moore’s actions include personal financial pressures, inadequate support staff training, lack of proper training in this area of [medicine], poor decision-making and a lack of understanding of drug interactions on behalf of Dr. Moore. Moore was involved with other individuals or entities in regards to this subset of patients, who also facilitated these and other actions.”
According to Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Jill Del Greco, an investigation into the operation is still ongoing. Del Greco said it’s possible that other individuals could still be charged in relation to the operation.
Moore is scheduled to be sentenced for the seven charges May 26 by Judge Michael Buckwalter.
Moore was originally indicted in August 2015 on 44 felony charges related to the operation.
“The purpose of the illicit enterprise was to make as much money as possible for [Moore],” the original indictment against Moore stated. “…The illicit enterprise, sought to produce as much money as it could via improper prescribing, commonly known as drug trafficking and other illicit acts such as defrauding workers compensation, defrauding Medicaid, and conspiring to do so.”
At the time of the indictment, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Haller told this newspaper that the charges resulted from an investigation that had been underway for more than two years.
“What [a ‘pill mill’] means is … a doctor or physician who’s selling prescription meds or writing prescriptions for high-powered narcotics, usually opiates, without a sufficient medical reason,” Haller said in a previous interview. “Sometimes it’s described as selling pills like candy.”
Drugs alleged to have been prescribed in the operation include Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Suboxone, Morphine, Percocet and others.
As part of the probe, investigating agencies seized approximately $100,000 from Synergistic Health Centers as “proceeds of the criminal enterprise” in 2014.
The original indictment noted that Moore is a prior convicted felon: “Moore’s prior felony conviction came about because of his participation in an illegal scheme to defraud health care programs. He was sentenced on Oct. 7, 2002.”
The Ohio State Medical Board voted to permanently revoke Moore’s medical license in 2002, but stayed that decision and instead imposed a suspension. Moore’s license to practice was later reinstated, and he was released from medical board probation in 2012.
Moore’s medical license, which currently has an “active in renewal” status, is set to expire July 1.
One of Moore’s attorneys, George Katchmer, declined comment following Moore’s plea hearing.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.