Investigators: ‘One-of-a-kind’ drug operation based in Carmel

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UPDATE: 

Dr. Larry Ley was found not guilty in connection with the prescription drug ring on Aug. 16, 2016. Prosecutors are reviewing their cases against the other men facing charges.

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As of September 2015, cases against doctors Larry Ley, George Agapios, and Ronald Vierk remain pending in Hamilton County, with a pretrial conference set for December 3rd. A judge dismissed the cases against the others charged earlier in 2015, according to the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office.

CARMEL, Ind. - Four doctors, a lawyer, and six other people all face a variety of drug charges for their alleged involvement in a prescription drug ring. Friday morning, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration raided an office located on East Main Street in Carmel, right in the middle of the city's arts district.

You saw the story first on FOX 59 Morning News. You can imagine the shock as folks arrived to work at the office building and instead they found agents toting out boxes of evidence.

"Twenty folks with DEA jackets, a little surprising," said John Kouns, who works in the building, "They were there about an hour and a half."

According to investigators, the suite, number 200 at 23 East Main is the headquarters of DORN, which stands for Drug & Opiate Recovery Network. It's an enterprise run by Noblesville doctor Larry Ley, one that bills itself as helping people get free from opiate painkiller addiction by prescribing a drug called suboxone.

"One-of-a-kind, that we've seen," said Major Aaron Dietz, with the Hamilton-Boone County Drug Task Force.

Suboxone comes in a pill and film form, but it too can be addictive, likened to a heroin alternative. It's used to get addicts off opiate-based painkillers, like heroin or methodone. But it's still a drug and can be abused. Addicts will often take higher doses than what's prescribed or mix it with alcohol and other drugs to get a more intense high.

"We make no distinction between Dr. Ley and any other drug dealer," said Major Aaron Dietz, "This type of ruse of a clinic perpetuates the problem because people are still addicted to the drug, and this is what is happening. This is not fixing the problem."

Investigators said Dr. Ley and three other doctors were not using the drug to help people get clean. Instead, they ran a cash-and-carry operation from clinics in Centerville, Kokomo, and Noblesville. The operation went by the name "Living Life Clean" in Muncie. Authorities raided all of those facilities on Friday including the home of Dr. Ley in Noblesville and attorney Andrew Dollard.

Court documents allege Andrew Dollard, a Hamilton County defense attorney, helped run the scheme. He too is charged in the probe.

"Hundreds of patients, the standard fee was either $120 or $160, and the word got out that the DORN clinic was an easy provider for suboxone," said Dennis Wichern, with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 2013 alone court documents show Dr. Ley made at least $718,000 and saw 1600 patients. He made even more money in years prior. Federal law limits the addiction treatment to no more than one hundred patients at any time.

Months ago, undercover investigators staked out the operation. Seven officers paid $300 upfront and would later get suboxone prescriptions without any medical screenings.

"One of the 27 undercover visits took only 39 seconds, while others lasted only a few minutes," said Dietz.

Last year investigators met with the family of an Anderson man who'd been a patient of Dr. Ley's for years. He died last July. In court documents, the family told investigators he wanted to get off suboxone and believed Dr. Ley's ineffective treatment caused their loved one's death.

Investigators tell FOX 59 their digging isn't over and more people could be in the cross hairs.

"There's a lot of people to be interviewed at this point, but it's possible more arrests are likely," said Dietz.

Both the DEA and Hamilton-Boone County Drug Task Force said a ring like this contributes to the drug problem because people are not getting suboxone with the help they need, including monitoring and counseling.

Investigators tracked customers from across Indiana and other neighboring states in the scheme.

"This investigation clearly showed us, Dr. Ley was the organizer. We had customers and clients from all over the state of Indiana to these clinics and out of state. I would classify him as the ringleader for our area, our state," said Dietz.

If you were a patient at one of the affected clinics, investigators say you can find help by visiting this website.

You can read the affidavit of probable cause by clicking here.

Here’s a look at the charges:

  • Dr. Larry Ley, 68, Noblesville: nine counts of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Dr. George Agapios, 47, Fishers: three counts of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, a count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and a count of corrupt business influence
  • Dr. Ronald Vierk, 58, Richmond: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Dr. Luella Bangura, 52, Lafayette: three counts of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, a count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and a count of corrupt business influence
  • Derek Tislow, 41, Avon: conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, four counts of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Andrew Dollard, 40, Carmel: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, one count of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Cassy Linn Bratch, 37, Carmel: four counts of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Yvonne Morgan, 61, Eaton, Ohio: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Jessica Callahan, 37, Muncie: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance
  • Eric Ley, 38, Noblesville: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and one count of corrupt business influence
  • Felicia Reid, 26, Carmel: one count of conspiracy to commit dealing in a schedule III controlled substance
Vierk, Ronald
Vierk, Ronald
Tislow, Derek
Tislow, Derek
Morgan, Yvonne
Morgan, Yvonne
Ley, Larry
Ley, Larry
Dollard, Andrew
Dollard, Andrew
Callahan, Jessica
Callahan, Jessica
Bratcher, Cassy
Bratcher, Cassy
Agapios, George
Agapios, George
Bangura, Luella
Bangura, Luella

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