Staff Photo by D. Patrick Harding
Dr. James Sego is led to a waiting police vehicle by members of the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force after being arrested for prescription fraud and several other drug-related felonies at his office in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A Cleveland doctor was arrested Thursday on four felony prescription drug charges. One of his patients, a Cleveland police officer, also was indicted and is suspected of reselling painkillers.
Agents with the 10th Judicial Drug Task Force led Dr. James Sego out of his Stuart Road office about 3:30 p.m. Thursday and into a black task force SUV. He had no comment for the media as he walked to the vehicle.
“One patient in one year alone has received over 6,000 oxycodone, 1,100 hydrocodone and 790 Xanax and steroids (pills),” said Mike Hall, task force director.
Mr. Hall said he anticipates at least 12 more indictments will be issued in the case. The task force collected 153 pages of patient names during the investigation.
The investigation showed that a Cleveland police officer was using and selling pills, Mr. Hall said.
The officer, who has not been named publicly, is undergoing drug rehabilitation and is scheduled for arraignment Jan. 5 on charges of sale of schedule II and III narcotics and possession of schedule IV substance, Mr. Hall said.
A prescription bottle with the officer’s name on it also was found at the scene when another Cleveland police officer was shot Nov. 30.
Dr. Sego, an internal medicine doctor who practices pain management, faces state charges of improper prescribing, facilitating commission of drug fraud, possession of schedule II and III drugs for resale and sale and delivery of schedule II and III narcotics. Bond was set at $25,000.
The task force found other patients who were prescribed thousands of hydrocodone, oxycodone and oxycontin pills, Mr. Hall said, and some of them are suspected of reselling the medication.
One patient already was being investigated and has previous prescription drug charges.
“It’s probably the saddest case I’ve ever worked,” Mr. Hall said. He called prescription drug addiction “probably the worst addiction there is, worse than meth or cocaine.”
“It grabs good people that work in our community in high places,” he said. “It grips ahold of them and it’s a spiraling downhill rocket.”
Mr. Hall said he’d received information about Dr. Sego four years ago, but he didn’t find the doctor doing anything illegal. In 2006, Mr. Hall arrested one of Dr. Sego’s office workers, who later provided the police officer’s name that began the investigation.
Most of the prescription incidents occurred this year, Mr. Hall said.
District Attorney Steve Bebb said the scale of the investigation was big, but he lamented the circumstances.
“It’s not a happy day for me when you have police officers in trouble,” Mr. Bebb said.
Mr. Hall said Cleveland Police Chief Wes Snyder has been “a tremendous help to me and 100 percent compliant in my investigation.”
A pill bottle with the suspect officer’s name was found in the vehicle of Cleveland police officer Dennis Hughes, who was involved in the shooting of Officer Chris Mason on Nov. 30.
In connection with the shooting, Cleveland police Officer Johnathan Hammons was arrested Wednesday on charges of perjury and filing a false report. He was released on a $5,000 bond.
Investigators said officers Mason and Hammons were on duty and at the home of Officer Hughes, who was off duty, at the time of the shooting. Two other officers have been suspended and Officer Hughes resigned.
Except for the unnamed officer, no officer involved with the shooting is connected to the drug case, Mr. Hall said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...