CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A doctor who operated a cash-only prescription medication business out of a Logan building has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Fernando Gonzales-Ramos, 47, of El Paso, Texas, said his medical assistant pre-wrote hundreds of prescriptions in advance of his visits every three months. When he arrived, he never examined most of those patients and charged them $400 to $500 for the medications.
He pleaded guilty before United States District Judge John Copenhaver to conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose outside of the usual course of professional practice.
Authorities said the doctor ran the operation from September 2011 through March 3, when a search warrant was used to enter the premises.
Federal and local law enforcement showed up Sunday, March 3 to investigate the so-called "pill mill" at 2130 Old Logan Road. They found people lined up outside the building. Inside, the facility had no medical equipment, exam tables or running water.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, "Dr. Gonzales-Ramos wasn't operating a doctor's office, he was running a drug den. For thousands of dollars in cash, he was pumping out prescriptions for thousands of units of powerful narcotics."
Goodwin said the office didn't even any medical equipment, even a stethoscope. But he said the office did have an armed security guard.
Gonzales-Ramos waived indictment by a federal grand jury and entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. Instead of the possible 20-year sentence, prosecutors agreed to a limit of 57-71 months in prison. A three-year probation will most likely be added to that sentence, Copenhaver said.
The judge could also impose a $1 million fine.