ATLANTA -- A Duluth man was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on charges that he was part of a pill mill operation less than a mile from Berkmar High School.
Dr. George Williams, 45, of Duluth and three people from Hollywood, Fla. were arrested on drug and distribution charges. Officials from the Atlanta office of the Drug Enforcement Agency believe Williams, Larry Webman, 64, and Randy Webman, 59, two brothers and the pain clinic owners, and Dara Webman, 29, an office manager and the daughter of Randy Webman, illegally sold and distributed prescriptions for opiate-based narcotics and other controlled substances under the guise of a pain clinic in Lilburn.
Federal authorities are seeking a forfeiture of all the property used for the clinic, and Williams' license to practice medicine. The maximum penalty is 40 years in prison and a fine up to $2 million.
Customers typically paid $250 to $350 per visit, and usually left with a prescription for a controlled substance, such as oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a news release.
"Unscrupulous doctors illegally exploiting their license to prescribe controlled substances represent an increasing source of deadly illicit drugs in our communities," Yates said. "The storefronts from which these criminal enterprises operate threaten the safety of our children and the security of our neighborhoods."
The clinic didn't take appointments, and customers often traveled from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Florida, Yates said.
Harry S. Sommers, a special agent with the DEA, said operations like this are "pill mills" and those involved are drug dealers.
Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said his department's top priority last year was working in a partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office, DEA and Internal Revenue Service to close this operation.
"We don't want them or any other type of illegal operation in our town whose sole mission was to pour poison into our community," Hedley said. "I am proud of the energy and commitment by all of our partners who were steadfast and dedicated in removing this cancer from our streets and increasing our quality of life in our city,"
The clinic was known under several names, such as Premier Medical Management, Inc., Premier Pain Management, Inc., Premier Pain Management and Premier Pain Management and Physical Therapy.
At the location, 3993 Lawrenceville Highway, Suite 110, Yates said Williams was the clinic's prescribing physician, and routinely prescribed controlled substances outside the course of professional medical practice and without legitimate medical purposes. Dara Webman worked at the clinic as an office manager, and handed out these prescriptions to customers in exchange for cash payments ostensibly collected for office visits.
Williams typically saw a customer only at the initial visit, for a brief examination, Yates said. On return visits, customers received pre-signed prescriptions by Williams for controlled substances from Dara Webman. Nearly all payments were in cash, and Larry Webman and Randy Webman personally oversaw the collection of the clinic's receipts, Yates said.