ABINGDON, Virginia — Indivior Solutions was sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection with a previous guilty plea related to the marketing of the opioid-addiction-treatment drug Suboxone, the Department of Justice announced today.
U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia entered the sentence against Indivior Solutions pursuant to a plea agreement. Together with Indivior’s civil penalties, it will pay $600 million to resolve its civil and criminal liability. Altogether, the investigation and prosecution of Indivior Solutions and its parent companies, Indivior Inc. and Indivior plc, and two former Indivior executives (its CEO and Medical Director) and a resolution with Indivior’s former parent, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, resulted in recoveries of more than $2 billion.
Suboxone, which contains the powerful opioid buprenorphine, is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment for opioid-use disorder. In connection with its guilty plea, Indivior Solutions admitted to making false statements to the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) related to the relative safety of Suboxone Film, a version of Suboxone, around children.
“Combating the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will hold drug manufacturers accountable when they make misrepresentations that could affect consumers’ access to opioid addiction treatments.”
Indivior Solutions, a subsidiary of Indivior Inc., pleaded guilty on July 24, 2020, to a one-count felony criminal information charging false statements relating to health care matters. Indivior Inc. agreed to terms complementing the Indivior Solutions guilty plea and agreed to implement prospective measures that include permanently disbanding Indivior Inc.’s Suboxone sales force and taking steps to prevent promoting Suboxone to health care providers at a high risk of inappropriate prescribing.
On June 30, 2020, Indivior’s former CEO, Shaun Thaxter, pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information related to Indivior’s false and misleading representations to MassHealth. On October 22, 2020, the court sentenced Thaxter to a six-month term of incarceration and $600,000 in criminal fines and forfeiture.
On August 26, 2020, Indivior’s former medical director, Tim Baxter, pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeanor information related to Indivior’s false and misleading representations to MassHealth. Baxter’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 17, 2020, before Judge Jones in Abingdon, Virginia.
“When a drug manufacturer claims to be part of the solution to the national opioid epidemic, we expect it to make honest representations to government officials, physicians and patients, who have to make crucial treatment decisions,” said Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar of the Western District of Virginia. “Instead, Indivior made false statements about Suboxone’s safety to increase its sales. I’m proud of the close relationship we have with our federal and state partners that led to today’s important result.”
In its guilty plea, Indivior Solutions, which employed marketing and sales personnel for the Indivior group of companies, admitted that in October 2012 it sought to convince MassHealth to expand Medicaid coverage of Suboxone Film in Massachusetts and sent MassHealth a misleading chart and false data indicating that Suboxone Film had the lowest rate of accidental pediatric exposure (i.e., children taking medication by accident) of all buprenorphine drugs in Massachusetts, when in fact it did not. Indivior Solutions further admitted that sending the false and misleading information occurred in the context of marketing and promotional efforts directed at MassHealth, which were overseen by top executives. MassHealth announced it would provide access to Suboxone Film for patients with children under the age of six shortly after Indivior provided the false and misleading information to agency officials.
“Opioid manufacturers and distributors must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the course of this national crisis that continues to devastate families and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Herring. “I want to thank my Medicaid Fraud Unit for their hard work on this important case and I also want to thank our local, state, and federal partners for their help and collaboration. No dollar amount or criminal punishment alone will fix this epidemic, but my team and I remain dedicated to holding these pharmaceutical companies accountable for illegal conduct related to the sales of opioids.”
“The purposefully false assurances of Indivior Solutions leading to potential misuse of potent substances such as Suboxone have only added to the opioid epidemic plaguing our nation,” said Elton Malone, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This sentencing, along with law enforcement’s continued focus on this public health crisis, should serve as a warning that large companies cannot rely on their corporate veils to protect them from prosecution.”
“The U.S. Postal Service spends billions of dollars per year in workers compensation-related costs, most of which are legitimate, said Kenneth Cleevely, Special Agent in Charge of the Eastern Field Office for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.. “However, when medical providers or companies choose to flout the rules and profit illegally, special agents with the USPS OIG will work with our law enforcement partners to hold them responsible.”
“Pharmaceutical companies that falsely promote their drugs, intended to treat opioid addiction, as superior to other alternatives only worsens the opioid crisis that has touched far too many lives in the U.S. Such actions potentially narrow access to treatment for those who need it,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who devise and participate in these schemes to the detriment of the public health.”
“Suboxone is a vital treatment for patients recovering from opioid addiction, and Indivior thwarted lower-cost generic alternatives to maintain its lucrative monopoly of the drug,” said Gail Levine, a Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Working closely with the DOJ, the FTC was able to secure compensation for patients harmed by Indivior’s anticompetitive scheme and ensure that the company does not engage in similar conduct in the future.”
The criminal case against Indivior was prosecuted by Randy Ramseyer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia; Albert P. Mayer and Carol Wallack of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch; Charles J. Biro and Matthew J. Lash of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch; Kristin L. Gray, Joseph S. Hall and Janine M. Myatt of the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the Attorney General; and Garth W. Huston of the Federal Trade Commission. This matter was investigated by the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation; the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General; and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The joint effort advances the goals of the Department’s Prescription Interdiction & Litigation (PIL) Task Force to deploy all available criminal, civil, and regulatory tools to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for unlawful practices and to ensure that prescription opioid products are marketed truthfully.
For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, visit its website. Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and the Civil Fraud Section and their enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov and www.justice.gov/fraud. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477). To report fraud or other criminal activity involving the Postal Service, contact USPS OIG special agents at www.uspsoig.gov or 888-USPS-OIG.
Front Royal man arrested for local business robbery
On Saturday morning, October 24, 2020, around 7:00 a.m., Front Royal Police Department responded to a business in the 200 block of S. Royal Avenue for a reported robbery that occurred in the overnight hours. The suspect made entry into the business by breaking the glass in the front door of the business. During the incident, a cash register and a safe were taken containing an undisclosed amount of U.S. currency. Detectives worked diligently, processed the scene, and collected multiple pieces of evidence and submitted them to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science lab for analysis.
On May 10, 2021, the analysis returned from the state lab and police identified the suspect as 57-year-old Front Royal resident, William Roy Foster. Mr. Foster was charged on 05/11/2021 and served the warrant while incarcerated at Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail, where he is serving a sentence for a similar matter. Foster is being held without bond with a scheduled court date of June 8, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in Warren County General District Court.
Anyone with any further information is asked to contact Front Royal Detective T.A. Smith at (540) 635-2208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Winchester, VA residents arrested after investigation by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force
On April 29, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force concluded a month-long investigation with the arrest of two Winchester, VA residents. Rasheed Riley, 29, and Josie Peacoe, 31, both of Winchester, VA, were arrested by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force following a search warrant executed at their residence.
In early April, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers received information that Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Winchester and Frederick County, VA area. Through the course of the investigation, Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force officers learned that Riley and Peacoe would routinely travel outside the Commonwealth to a cocaine source of supply. The pair would then transport the cocaine back to the Commonwealth for distribution and sale. Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers completed multiple controlled purchases of cocaine from Riley and Peacoe during the investigation.
On April 29, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force obtained a search warrant for Riley and Peacoe’s residence located at 2971-116 Valley Avenue in Winchester, VA. During a search of the residence, 266 grams of cocaine with a street value of $12,350.00, 2.5 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $250.00, $1,570.00 in currency, and 1 firearm was seized. Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were both arrested. Rasheed Riley was charged with possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance, a probation violation, and an active felony warrant for forging and uttering. Josie Peacoe was arrested for distribution of a schedule I/II controlled substance. Additional charges are forthcoming for Riley and Peacoe.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was assisted by the Winchester Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and the District 11 Office of Probation & Parole.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from the Clarke, Frederick, Page, and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.
Judge will hear oral arguments in reconsideration of Meza appointment decision
In an April 29th letter to attorneys for the plaintiff and defendants in the legal challenge of the appointment of Jacob Meza to the Front Royal Town Council four days after the term he chose not to run for re-election to in November had expired, Judge William W. Sharp alerted both sides that he will hear oral arguments on the plaintiff motion for reconsideration of the court decision that the appointment was legal.
Citing scheduling and other factors, Sharp noted he was staying his Order of Dismissal of the plaintiff’s case until those oral arguments can be heard. A date has yet to be set as counsel and court availability is still being determined.
In his letter to plaintiff Paul Aldrich’s counsel David Downes and Town and Meza attorney Heather Bardot, Judge Sharp explained: “Not a small part of my decision to enter the stay order and give one last chance for oral argument, is my realization that I gave a very poor articulation of my reasons for my original decision, and I do not want to make that mistake again. It is, therefore, my intention to give a written explanation of my decision, whichever way it goes, in which my words are more carefully expressed.”
As reported in our story on the April 7 hearing and court ruling “Judge rules Town Charter Section 47 does not prohibit council appointments for one year” Judge Sharp seized on the inclusion of the words “appointed or elected” in Town Charter Section 47 upon which the plaintiff case was based, in ruling for the defense stance that Meza’s appointment was not prohibited for one year from the end of his last term on council.
The relevant Section 47 passage reads: “No member of the council of the Town of Front Royal shall be appointed or elected to any office under the jurisdiction of the council while he is a member of the council, or for one year thereafter,” continuing to note for an unexplained reason an exception for the position of Town Treasurer.
As previously reported by The Royal Examiner, “In her Demurrer filing for dismissal, Bardot pointed to Section 6D and related wording on filling council vacancies, such as the one created by Councilman Chris Holloway’s November 2020 election to mayor. ‘The council may fill any vacancy that occurs within the membership of council for the unexpired term, provided that such vacancy is taken within 45 days of the office becoming vacant,’ Section 6D states. No reference to a one-year hiatus per appointment is made here, Bardot noted.”
Pointing to the words “or elected” in Section 47 of the Town Charter, Judge Sharp noted that obviously in the 84 years since the Charter was created, it had not been used to prevent council members from running for re-election. Thus, he contended Section 47 was not the applicable section of the charter at issue in internal appointments, siding with Bardot’s conclusion that Sections 6 and 9 of the Charter were the applicable sections on council appointments, rather than Section 47.
However, plaintiff counsel Downes argued that the framers of the 1937 Town Charter were using the words “appointed” or “elected” synonymously referencing achieving a consensus on internal appointments, and not referencing general elections decided by citizen’s votes. The framers’ intent was to avoid the fact or appearance of cronyism by political allies within council, Downes asserted.
Some supporters of the plaintiff case have noted Meza might have faced an uphill battle had he run for re-election in 2020 after alienating a segment of his support base during his last term. That lost base appeared in reaction to Meza’s reversal of initial recusals from discussion of his employer Valley Health’s request for a municipal loan through the EDA to finance the construction of the new Warren Memorial Hospital without a Maternity Unit. When his vote was needed to achieve the necessary council majority to approve the loan, Meza reversed course, claiming no conflict of interest to prevent his voting. He did note the support of that stance by the town attorney.
Meza cited job and family time constraints in explaining his decision not to run for re-election in 2020.
As to delays in finalizing the order to dismiss the plaintiff case due to any lack of clarity in verbally rendering his April 7 ruling, on April 29 Judge Sharp observed, “In a case of this complexity and magnitude, I normally would have taken your arguments under advisement on April 7 and prepared a carefully worded final decision. As I stated in the courtroom, I wanted to give the parties a prompt decision to prevent ongoing uncertainty. It is evident from reviewing your subsequent pleadings that I may have created more problems than I solved, and I do want to clarify a few points so that we do not go chasing down rabbit holes, and miss the core issues.”
And one might guess that among core issues during the oral arguments for reconsideration will be the plaintiff counsel’s observation that a council member’s term has yet to expire when they are running for re-election. Thus, if re-elected, one term flows seamlessly into the next without any real-time out of office.
It might also be relevant to the court’s reconsideration to establish whether, in the intervening 84 years since the Town Charter’s 1937 establishment, any former council members have been reappointed within a year of electing to leave office by choice or having been removed by the will of the people at the general election.
Sheriff’s Office seizes Fentanyl laced drugs, street value $40,000
On April 28, 2021, Warren County Sheriff’s Office Special Problem and Drug Enforcement (S.P.A.D.E.) Units conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for a speeding violation. During the traffic stop investigation, a Warren County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was utilized for a free air sniff. The K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics odor and a subsequent search of the vehicle was conducted.
During that search, the passenger was found to possess approximately 1,000 imitation Oxycodone pills containing FENTANYL, with a street value of $40,000. This suspect was arrested and transported to the RSW Regional Jail and charged with VA code 46.2-248 Possession with Intent to Distribute Schedule I/II Narcotics.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the community that FENTANYL is a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine and a lethal dose can be as little as 2 milligrams. Again, medications not obtained from legitimate doctors and pharmacists can be laced with FENTANYL.
Please, if anyone has any information that would lead to the seizure of these or any dangerous drugs, contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and ask to speak with an Investigator assigned to the S.P.A.D.E. Unit.
Armed, barricaded subject incident in Frederick County ends peacefully
On 4/23/21 the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office responded to 2492-46 Martinsburg Pike in regard to a domestic situation involving a firearm. The caller advised that Michael McGhee was intoxicated and that he had taken her vehicle, crashed it, and then returned to the residence where an argument ensued where McGhee stated he wanted to kill himself. Dispatchers were informed that the female caller took the couple’s 6-year-old child and fled the residence after McGhee grabbed a hunting-type rifle and fired a single round inside the house.
Arriving units on the scene set up a perimeter and evacuated neighboring residences out of an abundance of caution for the public’s safety. Once securing the perimeter, loudspeaker announcements were made to instruct McGhee to come out of the house unarmed without success. A command post was established and, after a situational briefing, the FCSO Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT) and SWAT team were both activated and responded to the call.
Once SWAT and CNT were on scene, a portable two-way communications device was deployed into the residence in an attempt to communicate with McGhee. Numerous attempts to contact McGhee via the portable device, his cellphone, and ongoing loudspeaker announcements were all unsuccessful. McGhee’s father, who was now on the scene, also attempted numerous times to talk his son out of the house with negative results. A portable robotic device from the Winchester P.D.’s SWAT team was deployed but was unable to maneuver through all areas inside the dwelling
to verify McGhee’s location and condition.
In a final attempt to avoid a forced entry and possible armed confrontation with McGhee, chemical agents were deployed to get McGhee to exit the residence peacefully. After the first disbursement appeared unsuccessful, a pole camera was deployed through a bedroom window. A heat source was detected and appeared to show a person on the bed hiding under the covers.
SWAT member’s made entry into the house and toward that bedroom door. While moving forward a door that was cracked open was slammed shut. Again, trying to avoid a possible armed conflict, SWAT was pulled out and another deployment of chemical agents was made into that specific room.
A few moments after this deployment, McGhee came to the bedroom window and advised he was coming out and proceeded to exit out of the bedroom window where he was taken into custody without incident. McGhee was checked out by EMS, where he refused medical treatment, before being taken to the adult detention facility.
Warrants for Felony discharge of a firearm in a dwelling and brandishing a firearm were obtained and served with McGhee being held without bond.
Sheriff Lenny Millholland is pleased with the handling of this situation and relieved that everyone involved is safe. “I can’t express my gratitude enough for the professionalism displayed by our people today,” said the Sheriff, noting this is the second such type of incident in the past few weeks. Sheriff Millholland concluded “While we hope for a time when such things no longer take place, the sad truth is it can happen anywhere. That’s why we will continue to acquire necessary equipment and provide the proper training to address any such type of incident.”
Front Royal man charged for sexual solicitation of underage victims
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Front Royal Police detectives initiated an investigation regarding the solicitation of minors in the Warren County/Front Royal area. Detectives started a proactive approach to apprehend individuals soliciting underage victims for sexual purposes.
An undercover operation ensued, and an adult male began soliciting one of our detectives who he believed to be an underage female for photographs and sexually explicit material. The adult male suspect sent sexually explicit materials to the detective. The initial conversation was unsolicited and started by the offender in this case.
Police identified the suspect as 20-year-old Front Royal resident, Daniel Currence. Currence was arrested on 04/16/2021 and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail. Currence was ordered to be held on a $5,000 secured bond with a scheduled court date of May 20, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police. We request anyone with information regarding the exploitation of a minor to contact Front Royal Police Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at email@example.com.