LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A woman was sentenced today to five years behind bars for operating an opioid buy-back scheme in which a doctor at a sham Los Angeles clinic prescribed narcotics to supposed patients who then sold the pills back to the clinic, which in turn peddled the drugs on the black market for high profits.
Angela Gillespie-Shelton, 54, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. She pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles in May to one count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
Gillespie-Shelton and her co-conspirators “made hundreds of thousands of dollars profiting off the Opioid Crisis,'' prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “The sheer amount of money made over the course of this conspiracy shows that this was a crime borne of greed where the criminalstrafficked lethal drugs despite the undeniable havoc they wreaked on their community.''
From October 2012 to January 2015, Gillespie-Shelton -- aka “Boss Lady'' and “Angotti'' -- and her associates ran Southfork Medical Clinic, located in the Harvard Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the time, Gillespie-Shelton primarily was based in Texas, but she frequently traveled to California.
At the clinic, Gillespie-Shelton's co-conspirator -- Dr. Madhu Garg -- saw so-called patients and regularly prescribed oxycodone and pills known by the brand names Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Soma, and codeine cough syrup known on the street as “purple drank'' and “sizzurp,'' court papers show.
After the supposed patients filled their prescriptions, Gillespie-Shelton and others bought back the drugs and shipped them to Texas, where they were sold on the street. The woman's co-conspirators also stole a physician's identity to issue bogus prescriptions to obtain additional drugs.
In Texas, Gillespie-Shelton used two pharmacies that she controlled as a front to sell the drugs shipped from Southfork on the black market. Under her control, the pharmacies in Texas also filled false or fraudulent prescriptions and received kickbacks from the fake prescriptions, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Gillespie-Shelton laundered more than $1 million from the diversion schemes through numerous accounts. She used some of the money to further thenarcotics trafficking conspiracy, which included paying rent for the Southfork Clinic and a stash house in Los Angeles, as well as paying Garg more than $200,000 for writing the illegal prescriptions, prosecutors said.
Garg, 69, of Glendora, pleaded guilty in February 2016 to illegally distributing oxycodone and money laundering, and completed an 18-month prison sentence, federal prosecutors said.
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