ATLANTA – Jason Cole Votrobek and Roland Rafael Castellanos have been convicted after a month-long jury trial on federal drug and money laundering charges for owning and operating a “pill mill” pain clinic which served as a front for the mass distribution of addictive pain killers. Votrobek had previously been acquitted in Florida of similar charges stemming from his ownership of a Florida pain clinic.
“The abuse of pain medication has become epidemic and now accounts for more six times more deaths than that of all of the traditional illegal drugs combined,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The defendants in this case preyed upon on those addicted to prescription drugs in order to line their own pockets. The abuse of prescription drugs and its related criminal activity has become a danger in many of our communities – one we have made a central focus of our office. Today justice has been served.”
Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the case, “DEA and its state and local counterparts continue to target pill mills and pain clinics that violate the law by illegally distributing prescription pharmaceuticals. In this case, those charged had an insatiable desire to traffic these dangerous and sometimes deadly substances, but they will not have the power to commit such acts anymore. This case would not have been a success without collaborative law enforcement partnerships.”
“Georgia citizens who served on the federal jury in this case sent a clear message that operating pill mills and the illicit diversion of controlled substances will not be tolerated in our state. As law enforcement saw the early migration of pill mills to Georgia we quickly began investigating organizations involved in this activity. The GBI is very pleased a multi-agency effort resulted in the conviction of these individuals,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force Commander Captain Mark Mayton said, “This was an important case for our local community as well as the prosecution of future “pill mill” cases. The hard work put into this case by all the agencies involved was apparent by the swift guilty verdict. Prescription diversion is a rapidly growing problem and hopefully this will serve as a strong message to those individuals who choose to exploit other who suffer addiction for their financial gain. We are grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office who believed in our case and support our efforts to keep our community safe.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In May 2010, using information from the Bartow/Cartersville Drug Task Force, multiple agencies joined in an expanded investigation of “Atlanta Medical Group,” learning that the clinic, located in Cartersville, Ga., was prescribing pain pills outside the bounds of legitimate medical practice.
The investigation revealed that Jason Cole Votrobek, 30, of Vero Beach Fla., Roland Rafael Castellanos, 34, of Hollywood, Fla., and Jesse Violante, 35, of Vero Beach, Fla., financed and operated the clinic. Tara Atkins, 36, of Cartersville, Ga., served as the office manager. Dr. James Chapman, 64, of Macon, Ga., served as the primary doctor. In their respective capacities, Votrobek and Castellanos worked to procure and distribute Oxycodone pills to addicts and distributors and directed the clinic’s doctor to see as many patients as possible, and to prescribe as many Oxycodone pills as possible, in order to generate mass profits. Dr. Chapman allegedly did so, however, without conducting sufficient medical examinations and, indeed, was frequently incapacitated due to intoxication. Atkins herself filled out prescriptions for the doctor to sign, and the amounts of pills distributed to patients were excessive, and with unusual dosage patterns.
The clinic was really a drug distribution operation with over 98 % of their patients traveling to the clinic from surrounding states, the majority from Kentucky and Tennessee. Many of those visiting had obvious signs of being addicts. The clinic engaged in unusual practices, like, permitting non-medical staff to assist with medical procedures, such as taking blood pressure, to maximize the number of patients seen. Indeed, in 2011, the clinic was one of the “Top 15” purchasers of Oxycodone in the nation. Votrobek and Castellanos made millions of dollars during the clinic’s approximately one year of operation. Votrobek and Castellanos established multiple bank accounts, many in third party names, to conceal the windfall profits.
Jason Votrobek, and Roland Castellanos will be sentenced at a later date. Jesse Violante and Tara Atkins, who both previously pleaded guilty to charges related to their conduct at the clinic, will also be sentenced at a later date. Dr. James Chapman is presently awaiting trial.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Group, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bartow/Cartersville Drug Task Force, Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; with special assistance from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Kentucky State Police.