2 Clarksville doctors charged in Kentucky opioid distribution case, 1 pleads guilty

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Two Clarksville doctors have been charged in federal court in Kentucky with participating in the illegal distribution of opioids across the state, and one of them has pleaded guilty.

The two, Dr. James Maccarone and Dr. John Stanton, illegally prescribed at least 46,060 pills from July 2016 to around March 2021 that contained controlled substances, according to allegations in court records obtained by Clarksville Now.

A sign on the front of James Maccarone’s clinic reads: ‘Please note that this clinic is closed. You are welcome to come to the Joint and Spine Pain Center 980 Professional Park Blvd. Suite C (931) 919-3813 if you live within 100 miles of the clinic,” February 21, 2022. (Keely Quinlan)

Pill partnership

Maccarone, who owned and operated the Gateway Medical Associates pain management clinic at 751 Chesapeake Lane in Clarksville, pleaded guilty Jan. 24 to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances, court records show.

Stanton pleaded not guilty. He was medical director of Maccarone’s clinic from July 2016 until the end of 2020, according to Maccarone’s plea agreement.

On February 21, the clinic in Maccarone was closed, with a sign on the door reading: “Please note that this clinic is closed. You are welcome to come to the Joint and Spine Pain Center, 980 Professional Park Blvd., Suite C, (931) 919-3813, if you live within 100 miles of the clinic.

According to the clinic’s website, Stanton managed the Joint and Spine Pain Center, which has two locations in Clarksville. When Clarksville Now contacted both clinics by phone, no one answered.

The first indictment, which was filed in federal court in London, Kentucky, in March 2021, charged Maccarone and two other Kentucky individuals with conspiracy to distribute controlled narcotics in areas of Knox and Clay in Eastern Kentucky.

The other two individuals also pleaded guilty. Stanton was included in the indictment filed in July 2021.

“Dangerous Quantities”

According to court records, Maccarone and Stanton repeatedly failed to meet professional standards for prescribing controlled substances for the treatment of chronic pain. This included writing narcotics prescriptions for several patients who “showed clear signs of drug diversion and abuse,” according to court records.

They also prescribed several opioids and other controlled substances in unsafe amounts and combinations, records show.

Some of the patients who were prescribed opioids for chronic pain were traveling eight hours round trip from southern and eastern Kentucky, sometimes in groups, records show.

Records indicated that these patients sometimes waited 10 hours or more to be seen at the clinic, and office visits were made late in the evening, or sometimes even early in the morning.

Patients paid for their care at the Maccarone clinic with prepaid credit cards at around $400 per visit, and they were allowed to miss the required number of pills and instead pay a “no-show fee,” according to court records.

Patients also understood that if they paid the high cash fee demanded by the clinic, Maccarone and Stanton would prescribe the narcotics, which could be abused or sold for profit, records show.

Also in the plea deal, Maccarone agreed to confiscate more than $200,000 in funds from three bank accounts, along with an additional $1.3 million in a judgment — which the courts ruled were profits from the illegal prescription of narcotics.

Maccarone also agreed to confiscate the Chesapeake Lane property where his medical practice was located.

Both doctors’ licenses have since been revoked.

Clarksville Now contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Maccarone’s attorney, Jim Todd of Nashville, did not return requests for comment.

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