In a Charleston S.C. federal court Doctor David Rhodes has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics, in what authorities say could result in a 20-year prison term and $1,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Phillips announced that Rhodes has been cooperative with the intensive investigation that culminated in a federal grand-jury indictment of 24 conspirators.
According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, nearly all of the suspects were arrested in a roundup by the Sheriff’s Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.
After the DEA executed a search warrant on the Lowcountry Medical Group clinic in the city of Port Royal last Spring, authorities annnounced that the doctor was at the center of their federal investigation.
All 24 suspects are charged with conspiring to acquire and sell oxycodone and cocaine, according to court records.
As early as 2011, law enforcement took action as the result of tips from Beaufort-area pharmacies and started investigating the sudden influx of oxycodone in the county. At that time detectives suspected Rhodes was writing hundreds of medically unnecessary prescriptions to “patients” with no medical reason. The scheme grew larger and within months the doctors was writing prescriptions for people outside the area.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter Phillips, “Rhodes knew full well the narcotics were not being used by the people he was writing prescriptions to.”
It is likely that Rhodes will not be sentenced until after the cases against his co-conspirators are settled, said Phillips.
In the meantime, the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners indefinitely suspended Rhodes’ medical license in May.
Doctor David V. Rhodes is a 1993 graduate of University of South Carolina medical school. His specialties are family medicine and emergency medicine.
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