U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro granted a motion Wednesday unsealing a two-month-old indictment accusing five people of participating in an illegal opioid distribution conspiracy run out of a St. Marys pain management clinic.
According to the indictment, Dr. Vincent Messbarger, pharmacist Gilbert Nelson Weise Jr., Weise’s wife Rhonda Gale Weise, Courtney Gilley and Amy Taylor, along with unindicted co-conspirators noted by initials D.M., D.S., S.M. and M.C., dispensed and caused to be dispensed quantities of “oxycodone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, … dextroamphetamine, … alprazolam, zolpidem and carisoprodol … not for a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice….”
Messbarger, while the sole medical practitioner at Coastline Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in St. Marys from October 2014 to June 2017, owned and operated the clinic with three of the unindicted co-conspirators.
“To create an appearance of legitimacy and to ensure that the clinic did not attract the attention of law enforcement, patients at the clinic were typically required to obtain or furnish magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reports and a prescription profile from a pharmacy before being seen by Messbarger,” the indictment states.
It continues, “It was part of the conspiracy that the conspirators, by virtue of Messbarger’s medical license and registration, knowingly and intentionally distributed and dispensed, and caused to be distributed and dispensed, controlled substances that were not prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose….”
The document goes further to show some pharmacies refused to fill prescriptions by Messbarger, but that’s where D.M. stepped in and secured the assistance of Weise Jr. at his Jacksonville pharmacy. But, the high volume of prescriptions meant another pharmacy had to come into the mix, which led to the alleged involvement of Coastal Rx Pharmacy, which the indictment states was controlled by Rhonda Weise, Gilley and Taylor, the acquisition of which was aided by a loan from M.C. Allegedly M.C. was paid back with controlled substances, given without a prescription.
“Conspirators accepted ’sponsors’ who brought one or more patients to Coastline and paid for the patients’ MRIs and clinic fees in exchange for receiving all or a portion of the patient’s prescription medications,” according to the indictment. “During the course of the conspiracy, unindicted co-conspirators M.C. and T.M. acted as sponsors.
“In their role as sponsors, M.C. and T.M. regularly delivered prescriptions for controlled substances, written by Messbarger, to Weise Prescription Shop and Coastal Rx Pharmacy.”
The indictment pegged more than $1.2 million in cash proceeds during 2016 from this arrangement.
The conspiracy charge carries with it a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a minimum of three years’ supervised release.