Southern Illinois physician charged in federal court with unlawfully writing prescriptions

EAST ST. LOUIS — A Benld physician was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, for use of a suspended or revoked DEA registration number when prescribing a controlled substance and for making false statements or material omissions from a DEA registration application, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today.

Prescription medications are lawfully dispensed through a closed distribution system. The closed system begins with the importer who brings raw material into the United States, and extends to the manufacturer, distributor, physician, and finally to the dispensers or practitioners who provide the controlled substances to the customer or ultimate user. The Controlled Substances Act is designed to eliminate the diversion of drugs from legitimate channels to illegitimate channels by requiring strict registration and documentation requirements for all persons, including physicians, who are authorized by state law to dispense controlled substances. Federal law states that a prescription may only be issued by a practitioner who is (a.) authorized by a licensing state; and (b.) is also properly registered with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The Indictment explains that Larry Leone was a medical doctor licensed by the state of Illinois, until his state licenses to practice medicine and to prescribe controlled substances were suspended for one year in 2010. After serving his suspension, Leone was placed on probation by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. At the time that his Illinois medical license and his state license to prescribe controlled substances were suspended, Leone also voluntarily surrendered his federal DEA registration that authorized him to prescribe medications. That federal license was never renewed. Leone is charged in nine counts for unlawfully issuing nine (9) prescriptions for 1,260 Zolpidem Tartrate (Ambien) pills and 540 Diazepam (Valium) pills that were dispensed under the authority Leone’s DEA registration number, which had been surrendered and was revoked at the time the prescriptions were written.

Leone is also charged with one count of making a false statement. That count alleges that on November 11, 2014, the Defendant completed DEA Form 224 and applied for a DEA registration that would have authorized him to lawfully dispense controlled substances again. On that form, Leone was asked the following question,

“Has the applicant ever surrendered (for cause) or had a state professional license or controlled substance registration revoked, suspended, denied, restricted, or placed on probation, or is any such action pending?”

Leone was charged for falsely answered “No” to that question and omitting material information from his application by failing to disclose prior disciplinary proceedings against his Illinois Physician and Surgeon License and his Illinois Controlled Substance License.

If convicted, Leone faces a maximum of 4 years in federal prison, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than 1 year of supervised release on each count. However, the United States Sentencing Guidelines must be applied to the case and considered by the Court during sentencing.

The investigation is being conducted by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Diversion Control. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft.