Sentencing is expected Thursday for a woman who operated an opioid buy-back scheme in which a doctor at a sham Los Angeles clinic prescribed narcotics to supposed patients who then sold the pills back to the clinic, which in turn peddled the drugs on the black market for high profits.
Angela Gillespie-Shelton, 54, pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles in May to one count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors are asking that she be sentenced to about six years behind bars.
From October 2012 to January 2015, Gillespie-Shelton — aka “Boss Lady” and “Angotti” — oversaw Southfork Medical Clinic, in the Harvard Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the time, she split her time between Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, prosecutors said.
At the clinic, Gillespie-Shelton’s co-conspirator — Dr. Madhu Garg — saw so-called patients and regularly prescribed oxycodone and pills known by the brand names Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Soma, and codeine cough syrup known on the street as “purple drank” and “sizzurp,” according to federal prosecutors.
After the supposed patients filled their prescriptions, Gillespie-Shelton and others bought back the drugs and shipped them to Texas, where they were sold on the street. The woman’s co-conspirators also stole a physician’s identity to issue bogus prescriptions to obtain additional drugs.
In Texas, Gillespie-Shelton used two pharmacies that she controlled as a front to sell the drugs shipped from Southfork on the black market. Under her control, the pharmacies in Texas also filled false or fraudulent prescriptions and received kickbacks from the fake prescriptions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Gillespie-Shelton laundered more than $1 million from the diversion schemes through numerous accounts. She used some of the money to further the narcotics trafficking conspiracy, which included paying rent for the Southfork Clinic and a stash house in Los Angeles, as well as paying Garg more than $200,000 for writing the illegal prescriptions, prosecutors said.
Garg, 69, of Glendora, pleaded guilty in February 2016 to illegally distributing oxycodone and money laundering, and completed an 18-month prison sentence, federal prosecutors said.