Grand Jury indicts “pill mill” for racketeering

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Thursday that the Fifteenth Multicounty Grand Jury returned indictments against Bernard M. Tougas, Ronald V. Myers, John C. Friedl and George B. Howell on charges of racketeering associated with the operation of a pill mill in Sequoyah County.

The conspirators were all associated with Wellness Clinic of Roland, Inc., located in Roland, Oklahoma, and are each charged with one count of racketeering.

Tougas, the owner of the clinic, and a physician’s assistant, is also charged with maintaining a building where drugs are sold. Myers and Friedl, both doctors, are alleged to have willfully and knowingly distributed and prescribed narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose or a doctor-patient relationship, resulting in each being charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.

drugsHowell, also a doctor, is charged with felony murder, or in the alternative, murder in the second degree, in the death of Tonya Lynn Chester, who died of drug toxicity after Howell allegedly wrote prescriptions for more than 600 narcotic pills for her in one visit.

If Tougas is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison. If convicted, Friedl and Myers each face sentences up to life in prison, and if convicted of first degree murder, Howell could face life without parole or life in prison.

The Multicounty Grand Jury has jurisdiction to investigate criminal matters in all 77 counties, assisting local law enforcement as well as handling matters of state interest. The grand jurors meet regularly to hear testimony in the matters being considered by the grand jury. The proceedings are closed to the public.