A federal jury in the Southern District of Ohio convicted an Ohio physician on Friday for unlawfully distributing opioids from his Martin’s Ferry clinic.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Thomas Romano, 72, of Wheeling, West Virginia, owned and operated a self-named pain management clinic where his clients traveled hundreds of miles to obtain prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances. For his opioid and other controlled substance prescriptions, Romano only accepted cash—$750 for an initial prescription and $120 for subsequent monthly prescriptions. The evidence offered at trial demonstrated that the prescriptions Romano issued for opioids and other controlled substances greatly exceeded recommended dosages and were in dangerous, life-threatening combinations which served to fuel the addiction of his clients. According to evidence introduced at trial, between January 2015 and June 2019, Romano prescribed over 111,000 pills, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants, to nine of his clients.
Romano was convicted of 24 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, outside the usual course of professional practice, and not for a legitimate medical purpose to these nine clients. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each charge. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Kenneth L. Parker; Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman of the FBI Cincinnati Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the DEA’s Detroit Division; and Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the Department of Health and Human Service Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The DEA, FBI, and HHS-OIG, as well as the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation and Ohio Board of Pharmacy, investigated this case.
Acting Assistant Chief Andrew B. Barras and Trial Attorney Christopher Jason of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.