Prescription drug abuse is a wide-spread problem in east Tennessee, according to the U.S. Attorney.
And his office is aggressively indicting and prosecuting those cases.
There was proof of that today when 4 Tennessee Valley individuals were indicted for running Pill Mills.
It was back on June 20th when local, state and federal agents raided the Sherard Clinic at 3rd and Holzclaw...walking away with records and boxes full of evidence. Now, a federal grand jury in Chattanooga has indicted 58 year old Dr. Jerome Sherard of Hixson for conspiring to illegally distribute and dispense control substances.
That would include the most potent prescription drugs..like oxycodone, methadone, and Vicoden.
Those businesses are usually called pill mills.
Also indicted was 58 year old Barbara Langford, also known as Lang, or "Aunt Bea". She lives in Rossville.
The other is Chattanoogan, 64 year old Charles Larmore.
The last two operated a primary care and pain clinic.
The arrests are part of a statewide crackdown that has closed dozens of other such clinics.
Debbie Loudermilk, is with the Council for Alcohol and Drug abuse services.
DEBBIE LOUDERMILK, CADAS " Tennessee really goes between one of the top three states..we're either number 1, number 2 or number 3 in the number of prescription opiates that are prescribed in the country."
Ms. Loudermilk says for many so-called patients, it's a business.
DEBBIE LOUDERMILK "Maybe some 10, 15, 20 apiece, depending on what you have. And you can turn a prescription for 60-80 pills into an enormous profit margin."
Penalties are still for distributing controlled substances.
The three local people could face million dollar fines, confiscation of personal property and up to 20 years in prison.
But Tennessee is cracking down with new laws.
DEBBIE LOUDERMILK "We're real hopeful about some of those laws helping slow down this what we consider..and Governor Haslam has considered this an epidemic at this point."
Langford, Larmore and Sherard have entered not guilty pleas and go to trial on November 5th.
CADAS, the health department, and a dozen other agencies are sponsoring a "Recovery Month Observance" all day Saturday at Hamilton place.
The event publicizes resources available to those who may be addicted to alcohol of other drugs.