Newsbrief: Feds Use RICO Against Virginia Oxycontin Doctor 5/31/02

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Roanoke, VA, Dr. Cecil Byron Knox, his nurse, and two office workers have been indicted by a federal grand jury under the direction of US Attorney John Brownlee for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in an apparent escalation of the federal government's war on pain management specialists, whom the feds routinely accuse of operating pill factories. Knox, who operated the Second Street Southwest Clinic in Roanoke, and his employees, had already been indicted in February for conspiring to illegally distribute the high-powered opioid painkiller Oxycontin and with prescribing the drug for no legitimate medical reason.

In a typical move, US Attorney Brownlee obfuscated the nature of the feds's problem with Dr. Knox by accusing him of "health care fraud," a technically correct but misleading charge. The fraud of which Dr. Knox is accused is the act of prescribing the Oxycontin in a matter which the federal government deems unlawful.

Dozens of doctors around the country have been charged in Oxycontin-related indictments and five were convicted in Southwest Virginia alone last year. But the RICO indictment is a first, marking a significant expansion of the federal war on Oxy docs. The statute was originally designed to prosecute complex organized crime cases, but its use has broadened over the years. RICO is a powerful tool in prosecutors' hands. Under the RICO charges, Dr. Knox faces life in prison and fines as high as $27 million. His nurse faces life and a possible $26 million fine. The two office employees are looking at 95 years and 105 years, along with fines of $2.5 million.

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Issue #239, 5/31/02 Editorial: Skating on the Edge of Propriety | New DRCNet/ Merchandise Out -- Discounted Purchase Available | DEA Forges Alliance With Women Legislators Group to Wage War on Club Drugs, Terror | DEA Raids Another California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Even as Advocates Gear Up for Day of Action Next Friday | FBI Ends Drug War Role to Concentrate on Terror War | Western Australia to Cite, Not Arrest, Marijuana Users Under State Government Plan | National Drug Intelligence Center Gives Partial Response to DRCNet FOIA Request on "Drug Menace" Web Sites | Report Charges Taft Administration Subverts Election in Ohio, Allies with PDFA and CADCA in Effort to Defeat Initiative | Newsbrief: Seven Up Pulls "Prison Rape" Commercial Under Threat of Boycott | Newsbrief: Feds Use RICO Against Virginia Oxycontin Doctor | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Rules Religious Marijuana Use on Federal Lands Okay | Newsbrief: Cannabis Cafe Vows to Open in England, Another in Scotland | Newsbrief: Tennessee Town Pays for Drug Raid Killing | Newsbrief: Oakland Rogue Cops Go on Trial | Newsbrief: Will Foster Arrested on Minor Parole Violation in California, May Face Return to Oklahoma Prison | Newsbrief: Swaziland Row Over Rasta Royals | Newsbrief: Marijuana Advocate Sues Over Hawaii Aerial Eradication Program | Newsbrief: Ed Thompson Does Weedstock, Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: British Magazine "The New Statesman" Calls for Drug Legalization | Newsbrief: Weird Scenes Inside the Pretoria Ford Plant | The Reformer's Calendar

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