Tiffin doctor indicted on drug charges

A Tiffin doctor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances last week in federal court for his role in pill mills based in Portsmouth and Columbus.

James E. Lassiter, 59, who runs a family practice in Tiffin, pleaded guilty to the charge Friday and is awaiting sentencing. According to court documents, a pre-sentence investigation was ordered by the judge.

Lassiter was indicted on the charge, along with other federal charges, last year. Court documents indicate a plea agreement was made Friday.

According to his indictment, Lassiter was among three doctors who worked for 48-year-old Tracy Bias. Bias, who has no medical education or training, co-owned two medical clinics in Portsmouth and one in Columbus.

Bias allegedly secured Lassiter and the other doctors for brief periods between February 2009 and June 2011 to prescribe pain medication “cocktails” that contained medications such as Oxycontin and Percocet, for customers at the clinics.

“James E. Lassiter would write prescriptions for Oxycontin and Percocet, and other Schedule II controlled substances and hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, without conducting any meaningful physical examination of the customer of the pain clinic as to ascertain whether the prescription was for a legitimate medical purpose and within the scope of ordinary medical practice,” his indictment states.

The indictment also states Lassiter would continue to write the prescriptions when area pharmacies refused to fill prescriptions from the pain clinic due to concerns that the amount of medications the “cocktail” had were outside the bounds of legitimate medical purpose.

To avoid the scrutiny of other area pharmacists and to make a greater profit at the clinic, Bias and the doctors opened a dispensary on the premises of each clinic to circumvent the need for customers to travel to another pharmacy, according to the indictment.

According to court documents, Lassiter’s pre-sentence investigation was ordered to be completed by Aug. 22.