Former ‘pill mill’ owner pleads guilty to fleeing trial
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — The former owner of the Maryville Pain Management and Detox Clinic, convicted on 57 counts of drug and money laundering charges in October 2012, pleaded guilty Thursday to fleeing her trial in U.S. District Court.
Tamral (Tammy) Guzman, 42, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan with her attorney, Michael Menefee, by her side.
Dressed in a tan jumpsuit from the Knox County Detention Facility, where she is being held as a federal prisoner, Guzman showed no emotion as Varlan read the plea agreement. He asked if she understood everything listed and agreed to waive all rights to a trial, which she did.
In addition to her forthcoming sentence for her drug and money laundering conviction, Guzman also faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for Thursday’s guilty plea.
On Oct. 2, 2012, Guzman failed to appear for the eighth day of her trial and fled to Hollywood Beach, Fla., with her boyfriend, 32-year-old Brian Paul Hatcher. On Oct. 30, a black Honda Civic believed to have been used by Guzman and Hatcher to travel to Florida was located, and U.S. Marshals set up surveillance on the vehicle.
On the morning of Oct. 31, Guzman was arrested while going for a walk on the beach. She admitted to living with Hatcher in the St. Maurice Hotel in Hollywood Beach, paying cash for the room and also working in a local restaurant under different identities.
Hatcher was also arrested that same day for harboring Guzman into Florida to elude capture. He pleaded guilty in federal court last month to the charge, and also pleaded guilty to retaliation against a witness who helped lead police to their whereabouts.
On the accessory charge, Hatcher could be sentenced to up to 10 years of prison and a $125,000 fine. The retaliation charge could include a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
While she was a fugitive, a federal jury convicted Guzman of conspiracy to distribute Schedule II and Schedule IV substances, possession with intent to distribute Schedule II and IV substances and 55 different counts of money laundering involving structuring financial transactions.
After the initial verdict was delivered, the jury returned a second verdict ordering Guzman to forfeit her assets to the government.
The jury also ordered a money judgment in favor of the government in the excess of $2 million.
Guzman was originally arrested in December 2010 following a 13-month investigation into her clinic. The indictment said that Guzman used information from her employees to buy controlled substances in bulk such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and oxycontin, among others, and give prescriptions.
Guzman claimed that her clinic, which opened in the fall of 2008 at 118 Parliament Drive in Maryville and also had another short-lived location on East Broadway Avenue, operated within state law, and depended heavily on licensed medical doctors that she employed. None of them were charged but testified against her during the trial.
Court records indicated that Guzman was earning as much as $28,000 a day in cash payments from patients who paid upfront to garner prescriptions for painkillers that most of her clients were addicted to.
Guzman would make cash bank deposits ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Employees of ORNL Federal Credit Union testified that Guzman would make these deposits almost daily, mainly in the bank’s drive-thru windows. She even offered tellers $100 tips for their trouble, but they refused them.
A sentencing hearing for Guzman is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 20, where she faces 20 years in prison on each of the drug charges and a fine of up to $1 million. She also faces 20 years on six of the money laundering charges.
Judge Varlan said Thursday that Guzman will also be sentenced for the failure to appear charge at the same time.