Johnstown suboxone clinic operator pleads guilty to federal felonies

 

Date: January 19, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Pittsburgh, PA — A resident of Bugler, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to using or maintaining a drug involved premises, and money laundering.

Stephen K. Shaner pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that between May 2012 and April 2018, Shaner was using or maintaining a drug-involved premises, and money laundering in order to conceal the proceeds of a criminal offense. Shaner operated a suboxone clinic called SKS, located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Suboxone is a Schedule III drug, used to treat opioid dependence. Shaner employed four physicians at SKS, who prescribed suboxone without physically examining the patients or engaging in any type of medical practice. On numerous occasions, individuals employed by Shaner but who lacked any formal or licensed medical training, completed the pre-signed prescriptions. Shaner laundered proceeds from the clinic by withdrawing them from the clinic's bank account and depositing them into his personal account.

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for May 11, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. As part of the plea, the defendant agreed to a forfeiture of $1,750,000 in illegal proceeds. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Michael L. Ivory are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which combines personnel and resources from the following agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic: Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney's Office – Criminal Division, Civil Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Shaner.