GULFPORT, Miss. - A Georgia doctor and three Mississippi men have been indicted on federal charges of illegally distributing painkillers.
At a news conference Wednesday in Gulfport, federal authorities announced the arrests of Dr. Sanjay Sinha, 49, of Woodstock, Ga.; Biloxi residents Robert Thornton II, 36, and Joshua Locke, 36; and John Mattina, 44, of Ocean Springs.
The doctor is accused of visiting casinos, befriending casino employees and writing them prescriptions for hundreds of pills, said Daniel Comeaux, in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Gulfport office.
"You can't hide behind a lab coat that has a doctor's name on it and get away with selling pills illegally here," Comeaux said in a news release.
Seven others face related state charges.
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis says in a news release that Sinha made an initial appearance Monday in federal court in Atlanta. Davis says court appearances are pending for the others.
Davis said the indictments were the result of a three-year investigation by federal and state law enforcement agencies.
"Prescription drug abuse is a troubling problem in this country. This office along with our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and bring to justice those individuals who would illegally distribute highly addictive painkillers" Davis said.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Oxycodone is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum penalty for possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.