LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A pain management clinic owner who uprooted his business from Kentucky following a crackdown on prescription drug abuse was arrested Monday on drug and money laundering charges.
Ernest William Singleton, 44, was arrested in Washington County in central Kentucky, where he lives, on charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to launder funds from October 2010 until this month, federal and state authorities said. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said the arrested was more evidence that authorities are making inroads in efforts to curb prescription pill abuse. The problem has become pervasive in a state where more people die from drug overdoses than car wrecks.
"There are signs that we're making a dent in the prescription painkiller epidemic in Kentucky," Conway said at a press conference in Frankfort. "Of the 45 pain clinics that were easily identified as pain clinics about a year ago, 20 have closed."
Conway also noted a double-digit drop in the number of prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Singleton closed his pain management centers in Georgetown and Dry Ridge in Kentucky, and opened a clinic in Jeffersonville, Ind., after Kentucky lawmakers passed a sweeping bill last year to try to curtail prescription abuse.
One provision of the new law requires that the owner of a pain management clinic be a licensed physician.
No one answered a phone listing for Singleton and it was not clear whether he had an attorney.
A Conway spokeswoman said that Singleton's clinic in Jeffersonville closed recently. The Indiana Medical Licensing Board voted last month to suspend the license of a doctor who worked at the clinic after a petition was filed citing unsafe prescribing practices.
No doctors were named in the indictment, but the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has taken disciplinary action against five physicians affiliated with the two Kentucky clinics that Singleton operated, the attorney general's office said.
Two of the doctors have agreed to indefinite practice restrictions and must pay $10,000 fines for violating the Medical Practice Act, the AG's office said. One physician remains suspended pending final action by the state regulatory board, it said.
Associated Press writer Roger Alford in Frankfort, Ky., contributed to this report.