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More Names Added to List of Health Professionals Charged in Opioid Prescription Investigation

The Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force announced that they have charged 60 individuals, including 53 medical professionals, with crimes related to illegal distribution of opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Albert Cesare,

This story has been updated and corrected.

Five more individuals were added Thursday to the list of those charged or indicted as part of a five-state sweep that federal officials call the biggest opioid prescription crackdown in U.S. history. The health care providers are listed alphabetically by state:


Tanya Mentzer was an office manager at a family medicine clinic located in Hoover, in the Northern District of Alabama. The clinic has a pharmacy in it, according to the indictment, and often stayed open past midnight. The indictment claims that Mentzer, who had no medical education, license or experience, is accused of conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States. The indictment says that she agreed with a physician and a manager and others to intentionally distribute and dispense controlled substances for no medical reason. It goes on to say that Mentzer and co-conspirators did it to get money for themselves. The feds claim they operated the business as "a pill mill, frequently providing dangerous, addictive, powerful opioid cocktails" for no reason.


Dr. Richard Farmer, a psychiatrist from Memphis, is accused in a grand jury indictment of providing prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone with benzodiazepines, a dangerous combination, for no medical reason and "often in exchange for sexual favors or companionship." The indictment claims he didn't maintain patient files or did so "woefully" inadequately and often didn't see or treat his purported patients before prescribing them the drugs. He is accused of prescribing to a pregnant patient starting from before she was pregnant and through pregnancy for no medical reason. The indictment says Farmer did so between January 2017 and November 2018 and charges him with unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances and aiding and abetting.

Dr. Michael Hellman, a physician and addiction specialist from the Gatlinburg area, is accused of prescribing the opioid-addiction medication buprenorphine with naloxone and promethazine with codeine at his office at 336 Poplar View Parkway in Collierville, without a legitimate reason. The indictment says he did so in February and March. He's charged with unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances.

James Litton, a Hernando, Mississippi-based nurse practitioner licensed in Tennessee, is accused in an indictment of issuing prescriptions for drugs including oxycodone, hydrocodone and benzodiazepines, which are dangerous when taken with pain pills. The indictment says he did so at Consolidated Health Services of Memphis, with no legitimate medical purpose. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.

Kathryn Russell, a nurse practitioner from Mempis, is accused of issuing prescriptions for controlled substances including oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as benzodiazepines, which are dangerous to use together, for no medical purpose, at Dillon Russell Health Care Professionals in Memphis from around March-April 2018. The indictment includes failure to properly diagnose patients or provide treatment plans for them, and failure to recommend alternative forms of treatment and monitor patients for signs of addiction. She's charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.

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