Atlanta pharmacy shut down amid ‘pill mill’ investigation

A south Atlanta pharmacy that generated more than $5.1 million dollars from unlawful prescriptions was shut down Friday morning, according to the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

Special agents served emergency suspensions that stripped Rosemary E. Ofume of her pharmacist license and put the pharmacy she owned, the Medicine Center, out of business.

Ofume was found guilty on March 24 of several charges including aiding and abetting in the distribution of hydrocodone and oxycodone, controlled substance conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy regarding customers of the “pill mill” pain clinic across the street. Her husband, Donatus Iriele, was convicted of concealment of money laundering and laundering more than $10,000 of criminally derived property.

The Georgia Board of Pharmacy ordered the suspensions April 12 after it found that Ofume and Medicine Center's continued ability to operate posed a threat to others. It is not clear whether Iriele co-owned the pharmacy, located at 1634 Jonesboro Road SE, when it was shut down last week.

This latest development comes a decade after the board revoked Iriele's license and temporarily suspended Ofume's license in 2007 when it found the couple had not accounted for more than 600,000 pills and had dispensed substances to more than 1,400 forged prescriptions, according to the GDNA.

DEA and IRS agents began investigating the pharmacy and a nearby pain clinic, AMARC, in May 2009 after receiving information that they were colluding to illegally prescribe and dispense pain pills to drug addicts and dealers.

Four people involved with AMARC — owner Godfrey Ilonzo, his wife, Bona Ilonzo, Dr. Nevorn Askari and Dr. William Richardson — pleaded guilty to charges related to their conduct at the clinic after being indicted in 2013.

According to the GDNA, Askari and Richardson would write prescriptions for “medically inappropriate and potentially lethal combinations of opiates and other controlled substances” and then clinic staff would tell customers — who came from across Georgia, Alabama and Ohio — to fill their prescriptions at Medicine Center.

Unlawful prescriptions reportedly made up more than 90 percent of the pharmacy’s revenue and was used by the couple to buy luxury vehicles and launder money in Nigeria.

Based on the convictions, Ofume and Iriele will be ordered to forfeit to the United States $16,767 in cash seized from the pharmacy, $133,893 in funds seized from the pharmacy’s bank account, a 2009 BMW X5, a 2008 Mercedes Benz ML550, a 2007 BMW X5 and Ofume’s Georgia pharmacist license. The government also intends to seek money judgments equal to the amount of proceeds they obtained from illegal drug trafficking and the amount of money laundered.

The sentencings for Ofume and Iriele are scheduled for June 13 at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Jones.

A man who answered the phone at Medicine Center Monday afternoon confirmed the pharmacy was closed and said the owner was not available.

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