Doctor pleads in oxycodone case | Arkansas Blog

Doctor pleads in oxycodone case


U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer announced today that Dr. Richard Duane Johns, 49, of Little Rock had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

He was responsible, a news release said, for illegally distributing 39,000 pills worth more than $1 million on the street.

Johns, charged with 18 others in a 2015 indictment, pleaded guilty to one count and will be sentenced later. He agreed to forfeit $155,620 in cash and a Ford F250 truck. Further forfeits are possible.

According to the release:

The conspiracy primarily operated in Lonoke, White, and Pulaski counties. On May 18, 2015, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office took Dr. Johns into custody charging him with 187 counts of violating the Arkansas controlled substances act, a class C state felony. The federal indictment later charged Dr. Johns and 18 others in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Dr. Johns was charged in six additional counts of illegal distribution of oxycodone which have been dismissed by the United States as part of the plea agreement.

This investigation began in November 2014 when Lonoke County Sheriff’s detectives responded to an opioid overdose death of an individual outside Cabot. The Sheriff’s Office solicited the assistance of the DEA, and the agencies began a joint investigation to determine the source of the oxycodone which led to the overdose. The investigation determined that 187 fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone written by Dr. Johns had been filled and distributed since July 2014 in Lonoke County alone. The
prescriptions totaled approximately 16,830 oxycodone pills with a street value of $504,900. A total of 38 individuals associated with Dr. Johns were charged with violating the Arkansas controlled substances act in Lonoke County Circuit Court. To date, 17 of those individuals have entered guilty pleas.
Johns wrote prescriptions without examining people in names provided by co-conspirators. He sold the prescriptions for $500 each. After they were filled, the conspirators sold pills for $30 each. Trials are still scheduled for some defendants.

The case was part of the DEA's Operation Piluted, which investigated illegal pharmaceutical business in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

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