AP NEWS

Alabama doctor pleads guilty to drug distribution

February 1, 2020 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama doctor has pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges linked to her prescribing opioid drugs from a clinic she operated in a community in northwest Madison County.

While a federal jury in Huntsville was deliberating on whether to convict her of 15 criminal charges Friday, Dr. Celia Lloyd-Turney pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances. Federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining 14 charges in exchange for Lloyd-Turney’s plea. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of five years on probation and two years of house arrest, court records state.

Lloyd-Turney, 66, also agreed to surrender her medical license.

U.S. District Judge Liles C. Burke set sentencing for June 8. The doctor faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, court records show.

The citizens of Alabama are safer as a result and the message is clear to medical providers who over-prescribe opioids: the white coat is no shield to federal prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town in a news release.

Lloyd-Turney was accused of over-prescribing opioid pills at Choice Medicine, a clinic in the Toney community in northwest Madison County. Federal court records alleged that she “prescribed dangerous combinations of drugs known to heighten the risk of overdose and death.”

Last April, she was among 60 medical professionals charged in a federal pill mill investigation in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Dating back to 2017, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners restricted Lloyd-Turney’s ability to dispense controlled substances. Board investigators said she over-prescribed substances to several patients and that she did so with no legitimate medical purpose. As part of an agreement with the medical board, Lloyd-Turney admitted she had excessively prescribed controlled substances to 10 patients. The agreement allowed her to keep her certificate to prescribe controlled substances.