Pain Management Physician Thomas Romano, Convicted of Unlawfully Distributing Opioids
(STL.News) A federal jury in the Southern District of Ohio convicted an Ohio physician, Thomas Romano, for unlawfully distributing opioids from his clinic.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Thomas Romano, 73, of Wheeling, West Virginia, owned and operated a self-named pain management clinic in Martin’s Ferry, to which individuals traveled hundreds of miles to obtain prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances. Romano charged $750 for an initial visit and $120 for subsequent monthly visits. The prescriptions Romano issued for opioids and other controlled substances greatly exceeded recommended dosages. They were in dangerous, life-threatening combinations that fueled the addiction of the individuals to whom he prescribed. Between October 2014 and September 2019, Romano prescribed over 137,000 pills, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants, to nine individuals.
The jury convicted Romano of 24 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose to nine individuals. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each charge. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Detroit Division, Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers of the FBI Cincinnati Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the Department of Health and Human Service Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The DEA, FBI, and HHS-OIG, as well as the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation and Ohio Board of Pharmacy, investigated this case.
Assistant Chief Alexis Gregorian and Trial Attorneys Devon Helfmeyer and Danielle Sakowski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force. Since its inception in late 2018, ARPO has partnered with federal and state law enforcement agencies and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia to prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids. Over the past four years, ARPO has charged over 115 defendants, collectively responsible for issuing prescriptions for over 115 million controlled substance pills. To date, more than 60 ARPO defendants have been convicted. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice