Search warrant issued for treatment clinic

Published 10:57 am Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office along with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Ohio Medical Board and the Lawrence Drug and Major Crimes Task Force executed a search warrant at the Community Counseling Treatment Services Inc. located at 4282 State Route 93 in Ironton.

The clinic is owned by Paul R. Vernier, 52, of Portsmouth.

The search warrant executed was to collect evidence of possible violations of trafficking in drugs, illegal processing of drug documents, Medicaid fraud, theft, money laundering and deception to obtain dangerous drugs, according to a release from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

Email newsletter signup

The search warrant is the result of a yearlong investigation spearheaded by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, the Columbus DEA Tactical Diversion Squad and Ohio Health Care Fraud Unit, in regard to Vernier and his staff allegedly engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, fraud and trafficking in prescription drugs. The alleged activity included overbilling Ohio Medicaid and submitting claims for treatments that never occurred, and forging prescriptions, which were illegally presented to patients.

The investigation began after these agencies allegedly received several complaints from citizens about the operation of the facility.

Search warrants were also executed at two facilities owned by Vernier in Portsmouth. The offices searched are located at 1616 Grant Street, and 4300 Old Scioto Trail. A search warrant was also conducted at Vernier’s residence located in the 200 block of Oakwood Ave. in Portsmouth.

Evidence to be seized included patient charts, prescription drugs, prescription drug wholesale records of accountability and computers used for Medicaid billing.

No arrests were expected to be made at this time.

Other agencies involved were Ohio Attorney General’s Office of Special Prosecutions, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office, Southern Ohio Drug Task Force and the Portsmouth Police Department.