Officials raid Chattanooga doctor's office (with video)

Officials raid Chattanooga doctor's office (with video)

June 21st, 2012 by Beth Burger in News

Chattanooga Police Department Crime Suppression Unit investigators Jonatan Watkins, left, and Lydell Blue remove medical records from Dr. Jerome Sherard's office at Skyview of Chattanooga Pain Management at 340 Holtzclaw Ave. Wednesday. Investigators from the DEA, TBI and Chattanooga Police Department Crime Suppression Unit closed the pain clinic Wednesday, serving a search warrant, interviewing patients and seizing records.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Investigators loaded boxes of medical records from a pain management clinic into a moving truck Wednesday morning after a raid at Skyview of Chattanooga Pain Management.

The raid, at 340 N. Holtzclaw Ave., was the second in two days in Chattanooga. Primary Care & Pain Clinic, at 6236 Airport Drive, was raided Tuesday.

It's possible investigators will search other clinics, said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Brad Byerley.

The raids are part of federal search warrants resulting from an ongoing investigation, Byerley said. Officers with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff's Office assisted.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Jerome Sherard, who is listed as the medical director for the clinic at 340 N. Holtzclaw Ave., had no charges filed against him. But some of his patients were arrested in the clinic's parking lot after police ran searches for open warrants on unrelated charges.

Attempts to reach Sherard were unsuccessful. A message on his home number said the voice mailbox is full.

Tamesha Pitts, 29, watched as investigators entered the unmarked building and stopped people in the parking lot.

"I'm shocked. I'm really getting chillbumps," said the 29-year-old. "He is a good doctor. Honest. Love God. Just trying to help people. This is shocking. This is really shocking to me."

Pitts said she used to visit Sherard with her three children when he was a pediatrician at a family practice. However, he switched over to pain management and stopped taking insurance, she said.

"I never went to him for pain management," Pitts said.

Tennessee Department of Health records show Sherard applied for Skyview to become a licensed pain management clinic on May 17 and the application was under review. He has a second pain management clinic in Seymour, Tenn., called Skyview Medical Center, records show.

Tennessee is one of the top states in the country for prescriptions written per capita, according to a report by the Kaiser Foundation.

State records show 22 Hamilton County doctors have applied to open pain management clinics. Of that number, two were denied and three are in the review process. Records show there are 24 clinics in Davidson County, 18 in Shelby and 29 in Knox. There are 251 statewide.

Byerley said a DEA diversion team keeps tabs on the clinics. He wouldn't say what evidence led to securing the warrants or what was seized at the either clinic.

Last month, another Chattanooga doctor who operated a pain clinic was indicted federally on 105 charges, including health care fraud, income tax evasion, money laundering and using a firearm in the operation of a criminal enterprise.

Ihsaan al-Amin operated the O'Neil Medical Clinic at 4719 Brainerd Road, which still has an active license, according to state records. Al-Amin's medical license also remains active. Under terms of his $100,000 bond, he is not allowed to practice medicine, according to Times Free Press archives.

Even if charges are filed, there is no change to a doctor's status, said Shelley L. Walker, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Health.

"Everyone has due process," she said.

Walker said licensees are asked to disclose any convictions to the Department of Health.