Team wins Director’s Award for dismantling a major pill mill network

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U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia

Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney David H. Estes (from left) recognizes some of the members of the team receiving the Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team from the U.S. Department of Justice, including Vilmarie Alcaraz, Supervisory Paralegal Specialist with the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Matthew A. Josephson, Assistant U.S. Attorney; J. Thomas Clarkson, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney; Jonathan A. Porter, Assistant U.S. Attorney; and Bradford C. Patrick, Assistant U.S. Attorney. Recipients not pictured include former Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office Senior Litigation Technologist Kostantino Athanasopoulos, now with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Tierra Bradley, Angelia Coleman, and Eric Kruger with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Troy Smith, with the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General; and Derek Ranger, with the Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

SAVANNAH, GA: A team led by the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office received recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice for the successful prosecution of a major pill mill network that illegally funneled millions of opioid pills into the community.

“Our office is justifiably proud of the outstanding work from our professional staff and our law enforcement partners, and this award from the Department of Justice is a well-deserved recognition for their tireless efforts,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “This investigation, prosecution, and trial victory continues to have a ripple effect throughout our community as related defendants are brought to justice.”

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Presented annually by the Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), the award recognizes “steadfast dedication, exemplary professionalism, commitment to excellence, fidelity to the rule of law, and to doing the right thing,” as noted in a congratulatory letter from EOUSA Director Monty Wilkinson to the award recipients. Due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, this year’s 36th Annual Director’s Awards were presented virtually. 

The Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office received an award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team. The recipients are:

The team was recognized for the expansive prosecution of a series of cases related to a major pill mill operated by Frank H. Bynes Jr., of Savannah, the leading Medicare prescriber in the country for certain drug cocktails. Over the course of the scheme, Bynes dispensed more than 5 million dosage units, including to addicts and street-level drug dealers. Following a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Savannah, Bynes was convicted and sentenced in February 2020 to 240 months in prison.

The investigative team continued to dismantle the network, securing a prison sentence for another physician who illegally prescribed massive amounts of addictive drugs, along with criminal convictions and civil judgments against pharmacists and pharmacies that dispensed the prescriptions despite numerous red flags. The combined cases resulted in six convictions totaling 321 months of imprisonment; 12 civil recoveries totaling up to $7.75 million; seizure of more than $1 million, 61 firearms, and four vehicles; and several administrative actions.

In addition to these prosecution efforts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked with local hospitals, medical providers, and coroners to address the opioid crisis in the Southern District of Georgia.   These efforts have helped to ensure that patients with legitimate pain can continue to receive the medicine they need, and that patients with addiction problems can receive appropriate treatment.

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