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Drug treatment center owner indicted: Vernier charged with 34 counts

Paul Vernier, the owner of Community Counseling and Treatment Services, Inc. (CCTS), was indicted on dozens of charges by the Lawrence County Grand Jury and is accused of selling Suboxone illegally, defrauding Medicaid and money laundering. The State of Ohio is seeking forfeiture of $1.7 million dollars and several properties.

CCTS, which was located at 4282 State Route 93 in Ironton, was shut down in October 2014 after a search warrant was executed to collect evidence for a myriad of possible violations after a lengthy investigation by several agencies in regard to Vernier and his staff allegedly engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, fraud and trafficking in prescription drugs. Evidence seized included patient charts, prescription drugs, prescription drug wholesale records of accountability and computers used for Medicaid billing.

The new counts against Vernier stem from 2014.

The indictment included 34 counts including three counts of third-degree felony Medicaid fraud, 12 counts of money laundering, 17 counts of third-degree felony trafficking in drugs, one count of first-degree felony aggravated theft and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The indictment accuses Vernier of deceptively getting $1.5 million in payments from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, making false or misleading statements to get reimbursement from the Medicaid program,

The indictment alleges that on several dates in September 2014, Vernier did knowingly prepare the controlled substance Suboxone for distribution and the amount equals or exceeds five times bulk amount but less than 50 times bulk amount.

The indictment also alleges that Vernier laundered money in March, April, May, June, July and August of 2014.

The Medicaid fraud and trafficking in drugs counts included forfeiture specifications.

The state is asking for forfeiture of money that Vernier allegedly got through activities of CTS including $1.725 million in a five bank accounts and one investment account and several pieces of property in Portsmouth, West Portsmouth and Lawrence County that are in his name or the name of Blessed Realty, LLC.