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A secret life? Wealthy grandma arrested in vast drug scheme

People who live in the upscale suburban neighborhood described her as a grandmother devoted to her 7-year-old grandson; a wealthy woman with a fondness for catered pool parties and extravagant holiday decorations on her 3,400-square-foot home. The 51-year-old hospital administrator had never been in any trouble.

The FBI describes the Tennessee woman as the head of a vast operation peddling illicit prescriptions to addicts, making millions of dollars in the process. She now faces drug trafficking and money laundering charges, federal prosecutors say.

The woman lives a couple hundred miles east of Clarksville in a gilded Knoxville suburb where she's known for her no-holds-barred pool parties and Christmas decorations. Prosecutors say that's only one side of the grandmother who was running so-called pill mills, where prescriptions for powerful drugs are sold to addicts.

The pain clinics were in Knoxville and about a half-hour west of there in Lenoir City. Some of the clinics had heavy traffic, serving up to 1,000 people per month.

The clinics had their origins in Florida, but when that state cracked down on pill mills, many operations headed to Tennessee, Georgia and elsewhere, officials told the Associated Press.

By becoming involved in prescription trafficking, the woman became "richer beyond probably her wildest dreams," an Assistant U.S. Attorney said in court, spending up to $6 million at casinos alone. Agents seized her home, jewelry, vehicles, TVs and several of the clinics.

A visit to one of her clinics, the FBI alleges, would cost about $325. In exchange, the visitor would receive a prescription for opioids including morphine, oxycodone and oxymorphone. The FBI estimated that 12 million prescriptions were sold at the pain clinics in four years.

Clearly, she faces the possibility of years behind bars, which is why her choice of criminal defense attorney will be crucial; someone with experience both in negotiating favorable plea agreements and effectively defending a client in court.


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