See updates to this story:
Jan. 31, 3:20 p.m.: Lilburn 'Pill Mill' Suspects Post Bail
Jan. 29, 11:30 a.m.: Initial Hearing Set for 'Pill Mill' Defendants
The U.S. Attorney's Office released Monday details regarding the arrests of four individuals suspected of running an illegal pain clinic in Lilburn.
Those indicted and arrested on federal drug and distribution charges were:
- Larry Webman, 64, of Florida, an owner of the facility
- Randy Webman, 59, of Florida, an owner of the facility and brother of Larry Webman
- Dara Webman, 29, an office manager and the daughter of Randy Webman
- Dr. George Williams, 45, of Duluth, who is suspected of writing suspicious prescriptions for patients
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the four suspects were indicted on Jan. 22 for "illegally selling and distributing prescriptions for opiate-based narcotics and other controlled substances to addicts and drug dealers under the guise of a pain clinic."
Additionally, they were charged with unlawfully distributing drugs near a school. Berkmar High School is immediately adjacent to the parking lot where the pain clinic, Premier Medical Management, Inc., is located.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announcement comes just days after a raid on the Lilburn pain clinic, located at 3993 Lawrenceville Highway, Suite 101. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, members of the Gwinnett Metro Narcotics Task Force, as well as the Lilburn Police Department descended on the clinic on Jan. 24.
The following day, Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley spoke to Patch about the department's involvement. "My No. 1 priority was to dismantle that illegal enterprise and shut them down because they're doing nothing but spreading poison in our community," he said.
"Unscrupulous doctors illegally exploiting their license to prescribe controlled substances represent an increasing source of deadly illicit drugs in our communities," United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a press release. "The storefronts from which these criminal enterprises operate threaten the safety of our children and the security of our neighborhoods."
Suspected Operation Ties
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the pain clinic was operated illegally since February 2012. About that time, the city of Lilburn issued a moratorium on pain clinics in attempt to get ahead of other such businesses.
In the indictment, Larry Webman and Randy Webman are accused of managing and controlling the clinic, but deferring to Williams on prescribing large amounts of narcotics. Officials suspect that Williams was "routinely prescribing controlled substances outside the course of professional medical practice and without legitimate medical purposes."
In addition, Dara Webman is charged with handing out Williams' prescriptions to customers in exchange for cash payments.
According to federal officials, the clinic saw as many as 60 customers daily and received $250 to $350 for office visits. Patients were "almost always leaving with a prescription for controlled substances, which often included oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller," officials said in a press release.
After brief, initial visits, officials suspect that patients received additional prescriptions -- pre-signed by Williams -- for controlled substances. "Almost all customers paid cash, and Larry Webman and Randy Webman personally oversaw the collection of the clinic’s receipts," officials said in a press release.
As many as 95 percent of the patients came from outside of the state, Lilburn's Police Chief said. States included: Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
Property Forfeiture Sought
On the day of the raid, law enforcement officials collected evidence, including office records and interviewed patients present.
Now, federal authorities seek forfeiture of all property used in and derived from the operation of the Lilburn pain clinic and Williams’ license to practice medicine. A gynecologist, Williams studied at both Meharry Medical College in Tennessee and Wayne State University in Michigan, and has been licensed since 2004.
"The dispensing of addictive prescription pain medication under the guise of a doctor’s care, as occurred in this investigation, is not about the good of the community or an individual’s specific health needs; it is about greed," said Harry S. Sommers, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Atlanta Field Division. "Make no mistake; those involved in 'pill mill' activity are in fact drug dealers."
In addition to the aforementioned agencies, the Internal Revenue Service also worked on the investigation of Premier Medical Management.
Each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000,000.