Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2019

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Reno doctor part of opioid conspiracy, officials say

A Reno doctor is among eight suspects indicted Friday on allegations that they conspired to illegally distribute prescription opioids, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for Nevada.

The eight suspects were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the opioids, officials said. If they’re convicted, they each face from 10 to 20 years in prison and a $10 million fine.

During a six-month period ending this month, Eric Math, a 50-year-old Reno doctor, would issue prescriptions of oxycodone and hydrocodone “without a medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice,” officials said in a news release.

Reno residents, Michael Slater, 42; Joseph Jeannette, 51; Ivy Elliott, 35, and Randy Raihall, 58, also were named in the indictment.

Math and Slater are facing an additional count each of distribution of oxycodone and hydrocodone, officials said.

The five Nevada suspects were arraigned at federal court in Reno Friday afternoon, officials said. The allegations weren’t outlined in the indictment.

Myron Motley, 55, of Richmond, Calif., was arrested Friday, officials said.  He faces an additional four counts of distribution of oxycodone and one count of distribution of Hydrocodone, officials said. A separate indictment, which named Motley and Raihall, tacked on an additional count of distribution of oxycodone, officials said.

Michael Kwoka, 56, of Fair Oaks, Calif., and Alesia Sampson, 56, of Grass Valley, Calif., also were arrested in their cities Friday. Kwoka, as well as Elliott, face an additional count of distribution of oxycodone, officials said.

Motley and Elliott were also charged for allegedly possessing methamphetamine with the intent of distributing, officials said. The case was investigated by local, state and federal authorities.

Oxycodone and hydrocodone are “among the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths,” said officials, citing the Centers for Disease Control. They have a “high potential for abuse that can lead to addiction, overdose, and sometimes death,” officials said.

According to the latest federal data, opioids were responsible for about 47,000 out of the roughly 72,000 drug-related deaths in 2017.

In the last 20 years, opioids deaths have increased about five-fold, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Preliminary CDC data from the first quarter of 2018 showed that the increase might have tapered off, but it was too early to tell if it was on a downward trend.