Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto
Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.
Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw
United States of America v. Carlos Luis Venegas
Case Number: 3:16-cr-00479-N
Judge: David C. Godbey
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Dallas County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: J. Nicholas Bunch, Myria Wynn Boehm, Renee M. Hunter
Defendant's Attorney: Patrick J. McLain and Kambira Jones Morgan
Dallas, TX - Pill Mill Physician Sentenced to 13 Years for Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics
A “pill mill” physician who oversaw the illegal prescription of nearly a million units of narcotics with no legitimate medical purpose was sentenced today to 13 years in federal prison.
Carlos Luis Venegas, 62, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance following a 5-day trial before U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey.
According to evidence presented at trial, Dr. Venegas acted as the supervising physician for a series of sham medical clinics – all merely fronts for the illegal distribution of Hydrocodone and Alprazolam.
“These pill mills help to perpetuate the tragic opioid crisis gripping our country,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said following the guilty verdict. “Last year, America lost, on average, 116 people per day to opioid overdoses. We cannot allow unscrupulous conduct by physicians to add to the supply of dangerous drugs on the streets.”
“The DEA will continue to investigate these types clinics and health care personnel who are facilitating illegal distribution of prescription drugs”, said DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division Clyde E. Shelley, Jr. “One overdose is one too many”.
At trial, witnesses testified that members of the conspiracy paid homeless and indigent people to pose as patients seeking pain medication. Runners coached these men and women on how to describe their (nonexistent) symptoms, drove them to the clinics, and paid for their appointments.
At the clinics, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, working under Dr. Venegas’ supervision, conducted only cursory medical exams, witnesses said. Medical files seized from the clinics showed that most exams were conducted without any medical testing and rarely produced documentation of patients’ purported ailments.
At the conclusion of the visit, patients were almost always prescribed a cocktail of medications, including Hydrocodone and Xanax, generally for the highest dosages available.
Several of his codefendants, including several nurse practitioners and clinic managers, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.
Codefendant sentences include:
Christan Michael Hicks – 70 months
Craig Zahn – 33 months
Leslie Rodriguez – 33 months
Don Broussard – 33 months
Ron Cunningham – 18 months
James Christopher Ware (co-owner of clinics, charged in a separate indictment) – 135 months
Stanley James (co-owner of clinics, also charged in a separate indictment) – 97 months
For more information on the opioid epidemic, see the DEA's National Drug Threat Assessment.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Myria Boehm, Renee Hunter, and Nicholas Bunch prosecuted the case.
Outcome: ELECTRONIC Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge David C Godbey: Sentencing held on 5/13/2019 for Carlos Luis Venegas (1), Count(s) 1, Committed to the BOP for 156 mos, SR 2 yrs and MSA $100. The defendant was advised of his right to appeal. Attorney Appearances: AUSA - Myria Boehm and J Nicholas Bunch; Defense - Patrick McLain. (No exhibits) Time in Court - 01:25. (Court Reporter: Shawn McRoberts) (USPO French.) (chmb) (Entered: 05/13/2019)