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US pain clinic CEO pleads guilty to distributing 4 million opioids

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Opiods (npr.org)

A businessman who operated pain clinics in the US states of Ohio and Michigan pleaded guilty Monday to a $150 million scheme to fraudulently distribute millions of doses of highly-addictive opioid medications.

Mashiyat Rashid, CEO of Tri-County Wellness Group, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and one count of money laundering, the US Justice Department said.

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The 38-year-old allegedly fueled a lavish lifestyle of luxury clothes and exotic automobiles by creating a massive fraud scheme to illegally prescribe 4.2 million doses of opioid medications such as oxycodone to patients, including addicts.

The investigation was part of an initiative by President Donald Trump’s administration to crack down on medical professionals who unscrupulously distribute the dangerous drugs to addicted patients for profit.

Such proliferation of prescription drugs helps fuel a massive opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.

Last week, prosecutors unveiled charges against five New York doctors, a pharmacist and their associates.

“The Department of Justice has made ending the opioid crisis a top priority and taken historic new steps to stop the spread of addiction,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

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“Today’s guilty plea helps us bring the defendant to justice and reduce the supply of illegal drugs flowing into our communities.”

Rashid agreed to forfeit more than $51 million, as well as properties prosecutors considered ill-gotten gains, such as various real estate holdings. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

The CEO owned and operated numerous pain clinics, laboratories and other health care facilities.

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Twelve others, including seven doctors, have also pleaded guilty in the case.

The US opioid epidemic has led to the first drop in life expectancy over two consecutive years since the early 1960s, American statisticians say.

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In 2017, a record 71,568 people died from overdose deaths, far more than traffic accidents and gun-related deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The crisis is rooted in decades of overprescription of OxyContin and other addictive painkillers, leading to more than two million people becoming addicted.

In recent years, addicts have been forced to turn to heroin and the cheaper, far more potent fentanyl as authorities have cracked down on prescription painkiller sales.

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2020 Election

‘He blew it!’ Keith Olbermann erupts over Trump’s ‘stupid and dull’ debate performance — ‘the oxygen of his rise to power was gone’

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On his new political show on YouTube, commentator Keith Olbermann ripped into President Donald Trump for his performance during the final presidential debate. Olbermann said that Trump "ran out of bullsh*t" as he tried to attack his rival Joe Biden.

"I don't mean to say that he was honest," he clarified. "It seems he was lying and manipulating reality at an even higher rate than usual. But with a few momentary exceptions, the salesmanship, the oxygen of his rise to power, was gone."

Olbermann said Trump needed "a debate knockout." Instead, the incumbent president just appeared "stupid and dull."

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Mary Trump sheds light on the president’s bizarre pattern of psychological projection

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President Donald Trump's niece, psychologist Mary Trump, appeared Friday on CNN to discuss her uncle's behavior during the recent president debate.

CNN host Anderson Cooper noted that Tony Schwartz, who is best known for ghostwriting "Trump: The Art of the Deal," has said "that when the president attacks people, the words he uses, the attacks he wages against other people are really things that are true about himself."

The CNN host said a similar dynamic was at play during the final presidential debate when Trump attacked Biden as being part of an organized crime family.

"It is amazing how much projection there is and I don't know if that's the term," Cooper said.

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Trump gets schooled by a historian for comparing his achievements to Abraham Lincoln’s

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During the final presidential debate on Thursday, President Donald Trump boasted that he had done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln. On Friday, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin appeared on CNN and blasted Trump for his remark.

“The most important thing in a time of crisis is for a president to be willing it take responsibility. One of FDR’s aides once said when things are going on right, people don't have to think a lot about the character demanded by the presidency. He can just stay in that old picture frame,” she told CNN host Chris Cuomo.

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