KNOXVILLE - Federal prosecutors now say the “largest drug dealer to ever set foot in a courtroom in East Tennessee” is responsible for the overdose death of a patient.
In a partially unredacted 13-count indictment against pill mill maven Sylvia Hofstetter that was released Wednesday, U.S. attorneys say an unnamed person at one of her clinics died after taking too much oxycodone, a painkiller that was illegally prescribed.
In addition, the indictment lists five other co-defendants – at least four with ties to the medical profession.
Named are physician assistants Alan Pecorella and Theodore McCray, and nursing assistants Courtney Newman and Cynthia Clemons.
The name of a fifth co-conspirator remains under seal.
Clemons and the fifth co-conspirator also are charged – along with Hofestter – with “death or serious bodily injury resulting from use of a controlled substance.”
The defendants all also face numerous charges tied to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and money laundering, among other counts.
The new charge, however, means Hofstetter – if convicted – could face life in prison. She’s currently looking at up to 20 years.
The list of new defendants is the first time that prosecutors have named anyone tied to the medical community.
Two of them, however, can no longer legally practice.
Pecorella’s medical license was revoked in November 2014 and McCrary’s expired in August 2015, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The licenses for Newman and Clemons are still valid.
Prosecutors in the indictment also say they want to seize almost $17.5 million from the defendants, two vehicles, three pieces of property, and 105 pieces of jewelry – mostly silver and gold necklaces, rings, earrings, and watches.
Hofstetter and Pecorella are set for an arraignment on Oct. 25. Hofstetter also has a trial set for Nov. 8.
Hofstetter, originally from Tampa, Fla., remains in jail since she is viewed as a potential flight risk.
In 2011, she moved to the Knoxville area from Florida to start up and to oversee pain clinics.
The government alleges the operation turned into pill mill operation in which people willing to pay illegally got prescription drugs while Hofstetter and others made a fortune.
Hofstetter alone enjoyed a $1.2 million-a-year lifestyle, prosecutors allege. The defense argues the government's claims are exaggerated and that the defendant lived an upstanding life and has no criminal record.
(© 2016 WBIR)