'Pill Mill' Defendants Plead Not Guilty
Only one of the four who made first appearances in federal court Thursday was released on bond.
Rome News-Tribune reports four of the five people arrested in an alleged Cartersville "pill mill" pleaded not guilty to drug distribution and money laundering charges during initial appearances in Rome federal court Thursday.
A U.S. attorney Wednesday announced the indictment, which alleges the five conspired to sell powerful pain killers at Atlanta Medical Group, profiting substantially, and used those funds to continue the alleged illegal activity.
Only one of the defendants was granted bond — Tara Diane Atkins, who served as office manager at the Collins Drive clinic, according to Rome News-Tribune.
Magistrate Judge Walter Johnson granted Atkins, 33, of Cartersville, an unsecured $10,000 bond, citing her family roots in the area, lack of a criminal record and his belief she is not a flight risk, according to the newspaper.
The primary physician also charged in the case, 61-year-old James Chapman of Macon, surrendered to authorities in Macon, the newspaper reported. He did not appear in federal court in Rome.
Bond and possible release for Jason Cole Votrobek, 27, and Jesse Violante, 32, both of Florida, and Roland Rafael Castellanos, 32, of Cartersville, will be decided Wednesday during detention hearings, according to the newspaper. Each of the three, along with Atkins, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Read more about the case — in which nearly $600,000 was seized from two Florida homes — here. If the defendants are convicted, they stand to collectively forfeit the cash already seized, the funds in 10 bank accounts, six vehicles, and three homes in Florida and Macon.
See the full indictment attached to this article for details on the accusations and forfeiture provision.