Celina physician arrested on federal drug distribution charges while preparing to leave the US

Flight Booked for Sunday to the Marshall Islands

NASHVILLE– Gilbert Ross Ghearing, 65, of Livingston, a physician and owner of a family medical practice in Celina, Tennessee, was charged this morning in a criminal complaint with violating the Controlled Substances Act, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Ghearing was arrested at his practice in Celina this morning by federal agents and transported to Nashville to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

According to the complaint, Ghearing owns and operates a medical clinic in Celina and also provides medical services at other locations in Clay and Fentress counties.  The complaint alleges that between August 2016 and February 2019, Ghearing repeatedly violated the Controlled Substances Act by prescribing Schedule II and Schedule IV drugs, including benzodiazepines and opiates, outside the usual course of practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

The complaint details allegations of prescribing these drugs to patients who exhibited a high potential for abuse and had a past medical history of abuse, including multiple instances of overdoses.  The complaint also alleges that Ghearing prescribed combinations of benzodiazepines and opiates, despite a warning issued by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration that combined use of these drugs results in serious side effects, including death.  

Records filed with the Court also reflect that on May 15, 2019, Ghearing, while under investigation for federal offenses, booked a flight to depart on May 19, 2019, with a final destination to the Marshall Islands.  

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alistair Newbern ordered Ghearing detained this afternoon, pending a detention and preliminary hearing on May 22, 2019.

If convicted, Ghearing faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services-Office of Inspector General; and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Bogni is prosecuting the case. 

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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