AP NEWS

Alleged Ohio pill mill owner pleads innocent to charges

April 20, 2019 GMT

IRONTON - The owner of an alleged pill mill with offices in Ironton and Portsmouth pleaded innocent earlier this week in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court to several dozen charges, including trafficking in drugs, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Paul R. Vernier, 56, of West Portsmouth, Ohio, was released on a $500,000 signature bond.

He was ordered by Judge Christen Finley to surrender his passport. He also was ordered to wear an ankle monitor, requiring him to stay within 100 miles.

Vernier signed a time waiver, giving the defense and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office more time to prepare for trial.

The next pretrial hearing in the case was set for 11 a.m. July 3.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office said Vernier wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t seek a monetary bond in the case, Finley said.

Vernier, owner of Community Counseling Treatment Service Center, a pain clinic, was indicted last month on three counts of Medicaid fraud, 17 counts of trafficking in drugs, 12 counts of money laundering and a single count of aggravated theft and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The state also is seeking to confiscate more than $1.6 million Vernier had in accounts at First & Peoples Bank and Trust Co. It is also seeking ownership of property Vernier owns in Lawrence and Scioto counties.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies served search warrants at Vernier’s offices in Lawrence and Scioto counties in 2014.