Knoxville woman, multiple others indicted in pill mill operation

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville woman and multiple others now face federal charges for allegedly operating several “pill mills” in Knox and adjacent counties over the past few years.

The primary focus of the investigation is Sylvia Hofstetter, 51, who is charged with conspiring with other pain clinic operators or sponsors of pill shopping organizations to distribute oxycodone, and to launder the proceeds generated by those clinics.Previous story:2 West Knoxville clinics raided by FBI, other agencies

Two businesses were raided Tuesday as part of the investigation: East Knoxville Healthcare Clinic on Lovell Road and Knoxville Pain Care PLLC on Park West Boulevard. Hofstetter’s home in the Falcon Pointe subdivision was also raided.

Hofstetter is accused of being responsible for distributing enough oxycodone to generate revenue of at least $17.5 million between April 2011 and March 2015. She was arrested and arraigned Tuesday and will be held until a detention hearing Friday.

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with some of Hofstetter’s neighbors. Angie Jacoby-Merrick has lived in the Falcon Pointe neighborhood for more than two years. She describes it as a typical suburban neighborhood.

“The kids outside playing people walking, walking their dogs exercising,” said Jacoby-Merrick.

It was anything but typical Tuesday, as FBI agents raided several buildings in Knoxville including her neighbor Hofstetter’s home.

“Kind of took us all by surprise. You just don’t think of that happening in your neighborhood,” said Jacoby-Merrick.Slideshow: Knoxville ‘pill mill’ investigation

Several others were also arrested Tuesday, including Patricia Newman, Shannon Hill, Chris Hill and Michael and Stephanie Puckett. Other arrests are pending. Five additional people are listed in the indictment as being involved but they are expected to be charged separately.

If convicted as charged, each suspect faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for drug trafficking and up to another 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000 for money laundering. There is no parole in the federal system.

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