Mississippi ‘pill mill’ prosecution falling apart

The pharmacist in the well-publicized Mississippi supposed “pill mill” case was acquitted on 43 counts while another 11 counts resulted in a mistrial, with the jury unable to agree on a verdict, reports the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald here.

The case – which began with a big bang where local TV station WLOX was invited to film, live, the very public arrest of two Viet doctors and a Viet pharmacist – fizzled out when the jury even declined to vote guilty on the conspiracy count against the only defendant who hasn’t pleaded, pharmacist Nick Tran.

The colossal criminal case started with 22 counts and then was amended to expand to 60 counts. The defendants are: two physicians, husband-and-wife Dr. Thomas Trieu and Dr. Victoria Van; Dr. Trieu’s brother Richard who’s their office manager; and Tran who owned the pharmacy next door and filled the prescriptions written by the two doctors.

The government initially tried to have the defendants held without bail. The accused, however, fought back, claiming innocence. After 72 straight days in custody, the defendants won bail. Read here and here.

After the jury verdict, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie said he was disappointed and claimed the jury found Tran not guilty on “the weakest counts,” which he said applied more to doctors charged in the case, according to the Sun Herald.

“That can happen when you let someone who is more culpable plead guilty,” Meynardie said — totally ignoring the fact that it’s almost certainly him who’s the one agreeing to the pleas.

The supposed “more culpable” parties didn’t plead to much either: Dr. Trieu pleaded to one felony and one misdemeanor count, while Dr. Van pleaded to one misdemeanor count. Read here.

The doctor’s brother pleaded to one count of misprision of felony, defined as failure to report a crime and is a charge rarely used. He was sentenced to time served and walked out of court a free man.

In defiance of common wisdom in criminal cases, and apparently in strong belief of his own innocence, Nick Tran took the stand and testified in his defense. TV station WLOX reports:

“Nick Tran spent the entire day Tuesday on the witness stand.  His demeanor was calm and he spoke with a strong voice.

“Often sitting with his hands folded in front of him, Tran told the jury he often called doctors to check prescriptions that might have raised questions. He also told them he discontinued plenty of prescriptions when there was any doubt about their legitimacy.”

The government will seek a retrial on the remaining 11 counts.

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3 Responses to Mississippi ‘pill mill’ prosecution falling apart

  1. pho 75 says:

    It is time for defamation lawsuit.

  2. thoughtless says:

    When I heard the news that a Toyota Prius had gone “out-of-control” on a California highway, I had the same thought most people did .. oh man, that balloon boy’s dad is good.

    The same thing can be said of many “healthcare professionals”.

    My personal favorite story is an attending physician at a New York hospital has purposely scheduled a weekly meeting with medical students and interns at 5 PM Friday because he has noticed an increase in number of N.A.D (No Abnormality Detected or Not Actually Done???) written on patient charts around this time when many members of his team are ready for the exit door.

    For a pharmacist who regularly sees a handful of pain prescriptions that don’t seem to follow any kind of pain management protocol and those narcotics mostly go to non-random “patients”, my question for you, Nick Tran: some had fatal overdose while taking these drugs – are there any side effects you should know about? (No Abnormality Detected, really !!!), or did you often call doctors to check prescriptions? (Not Actually Done ???)

    And understandably so, because we never really know your N.A.D, unless your kid in on Larry King show.

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