More deaths potentially linked to alleged pill mill leader

KNOXVILLE - The woman federal prosecutors say is one of the largest drug dealers to ever step into an East Tennessee courtroom is potentially looking at more charges connected to pill overdose deaths.

A mid-October indictment against alleged pill mill maven Sylvia Hofstetter has already said that one unnamed person at one of her clinics died after taking too much oxycodone, a painkiller that was illegally prescribed.

But, now more charges are expected.

Earlier this month, Hofstetter’s attorney filed a motion in U.S. District Court to withdraw as her counsel. In the motion, Florida-based lawyer Richard Escobar said federal prosecutor Tracy Stone “indicated” to him “that there is a probability and likelihood that a second superseding indictment will be sought alleging additional deaths and additional defendants.”

Based on that information – and because Hofstetter has stopped paying him – Escobar asked to step aside from representing her.

Hofstetter’s trial, originally set for Nov. 8, has been rescheduled to September 2017.

Hofstetter, accused of running a $17.5 million pill mill operation in Lenoir City and Knoxville from 2009 to 2015, was initially charged with drug trafficking conspiracy and eight counts of money laundering.

In October, prosecutors added the new allegation that she and a number of medical professionals are responsible for February 2014 overdose death of a patient.

If convicted, she faces up to life in prison.

Hofstetter, originally from Tampa, Fla., remains in jail since she is viewed as a potential flight risk.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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