Attorneys representing two former Hamblen County residents who pleaded guilty in a family-related, $8.1 million, prescription-related healthcare-fraud case in South Carolina, are asking for reduced sentences, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greenville.
The leader of the seven-defendant conspiracy, Kristopher Oakes, 37, would face at least 63 months in federal if prison if he were to receive a guidelines-range sentence. His wife, Christy LeMarr Oakes, 48, faces a bottom-of-the-range sentence of 57 months, according to the sentencing memorandums.
The defense attorneys indicated they were expecting a motion for downward departure from a federal prosecutor. That motion had not been filed by late this morning. The Oakes have five children.
Mrs. Oakes father – Mr. Oakes father-in-law – is Gerald “Steve” LeMarr, a former Morristown pharmacist, has also pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud in the South Carolina case, and has admitted guilty in a related case in Tennessee.
The Oakes were identified as suspects before LeMarr and her decision to flip on her father “ultimately destroyed the once-close relationship she had with her siblings and parents,” her sentencing memo states.
Unlike federal prosecutions in Tennessee, the Oakes merely indicated they would plead guilty, and a plea agreement was not filed in their case.
The information about their crimes comes from the indictment and allegations in a related civil suit proceeding through the courts in South Carolina.
The fraud involved expensive wrinkle, scar and pain creams that were compounded at LeMarr’s VitalMed pharmacy in Morristown and distributed through Balanced Solutions, the Oakes’ hormone-replacement clinic in Greenville.
Balanced Solutions’ sales staff lied when they represented the creams would be distributed for free – without a copay – and the recipients would not have to see a doctor to receive the compounded creams, according to the indictment.
“Defendants hid from the insurance companies that in most cases the patient had never been seen by a medical professional in connection with the pain and scar creams; that the patients had made no required copayments; that the patients had no medical necessity for the pain and scar creams, and that the deductible amount had not been satisfied by the patient,” the indictment states.
The attorneys representing the married couple indicate that they both suffered from substance abuse.
Mr. Oakes began drinking alcohol at age 10 with his uncle. He started smoking marijuana by age 12; opiates at age 17; benzodiazepines the following year; cocaine at age 22; and LSD and methamphetamine relatively late in life at age 37, according to the defense sentencing memorandum.
In 2015, he was charged with felony possession of meth, the sentencing memo states.
Mrs. Oaks began abusing prescribed oxycodone at age 38 and used it on a daily basis for about a year. She began using meth when she was 42 years old, a daily habit that also lasted approximately 12 months, according to her sentencing memo.
Both defendants completed substance-abuse treatment and no longer take medication that’s not prescribed to them, their attorneys represent.