published Friday, February 14th, 2014

Two plead guilty in federal pill mill case in Chattanooga

A TBI agent enters Dr. Jerome Sherard's office, Skyview of Chattanooga Pain Management, at 340 Holtzclaw Avenue, in this June 2012 file photo.
A TBI agent enters Dr. Jerome Sherard's office, Skyview of Chattanooga Pain Management, at 340 Holtzclaw Avenue, in this June 2012 file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Dates and location of local pill mills:

* September 2009 until June 2012: Sherard Clinics, 340 N. Holtzclaw Ave.

* December 2010 until July 2011: Superior One Medical Clinic, 340 N. Hotzclaw Ave.

* May 2011 until July 2011: Superior One Medical Clinic, 4850 Highway 58

* August 2011 until November 2011: Elite Care Pain Clinic, 5622 Highway 153

* August 2011 until June 2012: Primary Care and Pain Clinic, 5323 Brainerd Road

* October 2011 until June 2012: Primary Care and Pain Clinic, Airpark Drive, Suite A

Source: Federal court documents

Two of four people charged with operating a chain of "pill mills" here over four years have pleaded guilty and face up to 20 years in prison.

The other two defendants await a scheduled May 5 trial. All were charged with being involved in illegally prescribing pills such as Oxycontin, Valium, Xanax, Ambien and others to patients for abuse or often resale.

Court documents detail a cash-only business that changed locations every few months when neighbors began complaining to police about sketchy clients and armed security guards roaming the parking lots.

The charges allege that the group ran Superior One Medical Clinic and Primary Care Pain Clinic between September 2009 and June 2012. Both businesses changed locations at least once.

At overlapping times the group also worked out of Elite Care Clinic and Sherard Clinics, according to the federal charges.

Chuck Larmore, a nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Larmore is free on bond awaiting sentencing on May 8 but had to surrender his credentials for obtaining prescriptions and agree not to practice medicine. He agreed to forfeit more than $500,000 of his personal accounts and accounts he shared with co-defendant Barbara Lang.

Larmore's attorney, Hilary Hodgkins, verified that he was free awaiting his hearing but declined further comment.

Faith Blake pleaded guilty to similar charges in December and is scheduled for sentencing April 3.

Blake faces an additional charge of failure to appear. Documents allege she broke her bond conditions by traveling to Texas without telling federal probation officials.

Blake also pleaded guilty to violating IRS tax laws and agreed to a $2.7 million forfeiture. Her attorney, C. Eugene Shiles, confirmed that Blake is being held pending sentencing but declined further comment.

She admitted that she partnered with her mother, Lang, also known as "Aunt Bea," and operated pain management clinics at at least five locations in Chattanooga from December 2010 until June 2012, according to court documents.

Lang picked up another charge when, according to court documents, she knew her daughter had fled Tennessee and did not tell authorities.

According to documents, authorities discovered Lang had impersonated her absent daughter when calling a service that collects child support payments to reactivate Blake's child support electronic payment card.

Co-defendants Lang and Dr. Jerome Sherard both face 20 years or more if convicted at trial.

Sherard's attorney, Lee Ortwein, said his client has agreed not to practice medicine as a condition of his remaining free on bond. Ortwein declined further comment.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

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 ...

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