A doctor and four employees from Bade Medical Clinic in Hilo have been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Dr. Ernest Bade, 80, was charged with 40 counts of distributing a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose.
Bade and his office manager, Yvonne Caitano, 54, were charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.
Caitano and Sheena Strong, 32, an office assistant, were charged with a separate conspiracy to further distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Caitano, Strong, and two other office assistants, Marie Benevides, 80, and Theresa Saltus, 59, were charged with conspiring to obtain controlled substances through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, and subterfuge.
According to the indictment, law enforcement received information from several sources that Bade was prescribing unusually large quantities of controlled substances, including powerful narcotics, sedatives, and opioids.
An undercover agent later went in and was prescribed multiple prescriptions without any cursory exams and no diagnostic testing.
“The indictment alleges from about May of 2015 until October 16th of this year, Dr. Bade and Caitano worked together to facilitate the operation of Bade Medical Clinic by prescribing drugs outside the usual course of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji Price.
The indictment further alleges that Caitano and Strong conspired to obtain large amounts of controlled substances through prescriptions signed by Bade, which they then sold to other people.
When Hilo pharmacies stopped refilling Bade’s prescriptions, some of the employees allegedly flew to other islands to fill and pickup multiple prescriptions.
“I think that the charges against Dr. Bade should have a signaling effect to any other physicians or any other medical practitioners generally who either have sloppy internal practices that show intentional misconduct or quite frankly are just violating the law under any mistaken belief that we have a lax regulatory environment here,” said Price.
The DEA said the case is a symbol of their intention to prevent Hawaii from having to deal with the opioid crisis devastating the mainland.
Bade will be arraigned in court on Oct. 30. He and the four other defendants have been released pending trial.