MOBILE, AL (WKRG) —- A judge has sentenced the first of two Mobile-based pain doctors found guilty of running a “pill mill” operation.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Callie Granade has sentenced Dr. John Patrick Couch of Pain Physicians Specialists to 240 months in prison, to be served concurrently. The judge recommended that Couch serve his sentence in a prison that offers drug addiction treatment and mental health services that is as close to Mobile as possible.
Couch will also have to pay millions in restitution to a number of different institutions and patients.
The sentencing comes after a seven-week trial with more than 80 witnesses that resulted in a conviction on February 23.
Ruan and Couch were found to be at the middle of a massive conspiracy that included nurses, pharmacists, drug sales-reps and drug company executives.
Prosecutors claim the two doctors grossed $20 million between 2012 and 2015 when their clinic was raided and shut down.
In 2014 alone, investigators found the doctors wrote a combined 66,892 prescriptions — equaling a rate of one prescription every four minutes.
Couch and Ruan were originally accused of prescribing the painkillers that led to the deaths of four patients, but those charges were dropped by prosecutors.
Dr. Xiulu Ruan is scheduled to receive his sentencing tomorrow.