WARREN Painkiller probe goes forward

Three men are accused of violating laws regarding powerful controlled drugs.
WARREN -- The investigation that led to the drug-related indictments of two medical doctors and a chiropractor continues, the Trumbull County prosecutor said.
Dr. William E. Masters, 72, of Genesee Avenue Northeast, Warren; Dr. Christopher J. Sherman, 53, of Old Wagon Lane, Howland; and Charles W. Theisler, 53, of Ruby Court, Austintown, were served with multiple-count indictments Thursday.
Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said during a press conference afterward that he does not know if additional arrests will be made. "This isn't over," he said.
Masters and Sherman are medical doctors. Theisler is a chiropractor, officials said.
Masters and Theisler both face a 118-count indictment. Sherman faces a 120-count indictment.
The charges
All three are indicted on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, aggravating trafficking in drugs, trafficking in drugs, illegal processing of drug documents and practicing medicine without a certificate. Sherman also faces two additional counts of aggravated possession of drugs.
The three men all pleaded innocent and were released after posting $50,000 bonds.
All three had worked out of Pain Management Associates, 5000 East Market Street, Warren.
The indictment alleges that Sherman and Masters permitted Theisler to issue presigned prescriptions to patients for schedule II and schedule III controlled substances.
Theisler is not authorized to prescribe the controlled substances, said Watkins and Chris Becker, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.
Seen by Theisler
Becker noted that from July 2001 to Jan. 26, 2004, Masters billed patients $1.2 million, even though those patients were actually seen by Theisler.
Likewise, Sherman billed patients $18,000 during the same time frame but the patients were seen by Theisler, prosecutor said.
"Any medical practitioner that violates their medical oath by engaging in such criminal activity should be investigated and fully prosecuted under the law," Watkins said.
Some of the prescriptions were for OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription painkiller, prosecutors said. Watkins noted that OxyContin deaths occur each year in Trumbull County from improper use of the drug.
The indictments were the result of a three-month investigation conducted by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, Trumbull County Sheriff's Department and the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office.

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