Three Tennessee Physicians Sentenced for Roles in Drug Trafficking and Fraud Schemes

For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Three Tennessee physicians were sentenced on Wednesday and Thursday, by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, following their convictions for conspiracy to illicitly prescribe controlled substances and related fraud and money laundering offenses.  Evann Herrell was sentenced to 120 months in prison, Mark Grenkoski to 108 months, and Stephen Cirelli to 48 months.

Herrell, Grenkoski, and Cirelli worked at EHC Medical clinics, located in Harriman and Jacksboro, Tenn., that purported to offer treatment for opioid use disorder.  At trial, the United States presented evidence that the defendants participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to provide prescriptions for high doses and dangerous combinations of Suboxone and benzodiazepine-class drugs, to cash-paying customers.  These drugs were then being sold, traded, and abused throughout southeastern Kentucky.  The evidence further established that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to falsify medical records, while supposedly treating patients, and that Herrell, Grenkoski, and another physician defendant, Keri McFarlane, conspired to cause millions of dollars in fraudulent submissions to Medicare, Kentucky Medicaid, and other health benefit programs for prescription drugs and urine drug testing. 

Robert Taylor, who opened EHC Medical in 2013 and operated it through late 2018, pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking conspiracy charge and was sentenced in 2023 to 30 months in prison.  He forfeited $13.8 million and paid an additional fine of $200,000.  Lori Barnett, a registered nurse who helped Taylor supervise day-to-day operations, and three other physicians – Matthew Rasberry, Helen Bidawid, and Eva Misra – also pleaded guilty to related drug or money laundering charges.  McFarlane is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10, 2023.

Under federal law, Herrell, Grenkoski, and Cirelli must serve 85 percent of their prison sentences.  Upon their release from prison, they will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for two years.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Erek Davodowich, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville Field Division; Karen Wingerd, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; and Tamala E. Miles, Special Agent in Charge at the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), jointly announced the sentences.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, IRS, and HHS, with support from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General.

The United States was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Rosenberg, Amanda Huang, and Andrew Smith.  The case was prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, an initiative focusing on significant drug trafficking and money laundering criminal organizations.

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Top photo credit: Adobe Stock