Bladenboro Woman Sentenced to 60 Months for Drug Offenses Arising from Tabor City Pill Mill

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NEW BERN, N.C. – A Bladen County woman who helped a former doctor operate a “pill mill” in Columbus County, where opioids and other controlled substances were improperly prescribed, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for unlawfully distributing Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Methadone, and Marijuana.

“The defendant helped to illegally distribute opioids, jeopardizing the safety of the community,” said Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “My office will continue to collaborate with law enforcement at all levels to dismantle criminal organizations that are contributing to the drug problems in eastern North Carolina.”

According to court documents, Tammy Lynn Thompson, 57, and co-defendant and former doctor, Jong Kim, were charged with violating federal drug trafficking laws.  The co-defendant, Kim, pled guilty to multiple counts and was sentenced earlier this year to 78 months.  On July 12, 2021, Thompson pled guilty to Conspiracy to Unlawfully Distribute Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Methadone, and Marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §846; multiple counts of Distribution of Marijuana and Aiding and Abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2; Distribution of Hydrocodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1); and Unlawful Dispensation and Distribution of Hydrocodone and Marijuana and Aiding and Abetting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2.

In 2017, Thompson helped Kim—who had previously been forced to resign from an area medical practice due to concerns over his opioid prescribing practices—to open his own clinic in Tabor City, NC. From October 2017 to June 28, 2018, Thompson helped Kim unlawfully and improperly prescribe opioids and other controlled substances by bringing in “patients” who paid $200 cash at each appointment. The investigation revealed that Kim wrote controlled substance prescriptions to virtually every patient he saw and often failed to meet the basic standards of legitimate medical care. Word spread quickly and the pill mill drew people from across Eastern North Carolina and other states. The volume of patients and associated activity in the parking lot of the clinic created safety concerns for the adjacent Tabor City Elementary School, which was forced to restrict outdoor activities for students until a privacy fence was constructed. Additionally, Thompson sold marijuana and hydrocodone on multiple occasions at both the clinic and the residence she shared with Kim.

In January 2018, a confidential source began conducting a series of controlled purchases from Kim and Thompson, which were audio and video recorded.  On June 29, 2018, search warrants were executed at Kim’s clinic and residence and Kim and Thompson were arrested.  A medical expert who reviewed Kim’s records found no evidence that Kim was providing real medical care and concluded that Kim was merely exchanging prescriptions for money.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Charlotte Tactical Diversion Squad, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, DECU investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nick Miller, Tim Severo, and Bryan Stephany prosecuted the case. 

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:18-CR-00200-FL.