The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 25, 2013

Carthage woman sentenced in prescription-drug conspiracy case

From staff reports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A licensed professional counselor at a Carthage clinic was sentenced in federal court Monday for her role in conspiracies to illegally distribute more than $1.5 million in prescription drugs and to engage in money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District.

Tammy L. Neil, 43, of Carthage, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to 12 months and one day in federal prison without parole and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The court ordered Neil to forfeit to the government a 2007 Jaguar, a 1966 Piper airplane and $10,000, which is a substitute asset for a 2008 Cadillac Escalade, all of which was property that was purchased with the proceeds of her criminal conduct. The court also ordered Neil to forfeit to the government an additional $200,000, which represents the proceeds received in exchange for the distribution of controlled substances.

According to a news release, Neil pleaded guilty on July 18, 2012, to her role in a conspiracy to illegally distribute phentermine from Jan. 1, 2005, through March 26, 2008. Neil also admitted to participating in a conspiracy to engage in money laundering during the same time frame by aiding and abetting others to conduct financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. Between 2005 and 2008, Neil and her former husband, the late John Freitas, deposited more than $1.5 million into several bank accounts.

Neil and Freitas, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, owned and operated Complete Quick Care Clinic, 2232 S. Garrison Ave. in Carthage. Freitas oversaw the health care aspects of the clinic, while Neil managed the day-to-day operations and ran the weight-loss side of the clinic.

As part of the weight-loss clinic, Neil was responsible for seeing more than half of all clinic patients every day. Neil directed her employees to weigh the patients, chart their weight and sell the patients phentermine — which patients referred to as “synthetic meth” — as part of the weight-loss protocol, according to the court.

Phentermine is an amphetamine-based controlled substance often used to assist in weight loss. As a licensed counselor, Neil was not authorized to prescribe or dispense any controlled substance, including phentermine. Her patients received phentermine outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, according to the court.

The case was prosecuted by Randall D. Eggert and Cynthia J. Hyde, assistant U.S. attorneys. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA Diversion Division, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Carthage Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.