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Local physician assistant sentenced for unlawfully distributing pain pills

4 years 8 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, August 29 2019 Aug 29, 2019 August 29, 2019 2:37 PM August 29, 2019 in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ

UPDATE: Christopher Armstrong was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday for his role in a scheme to unlawfully distribute prescriptions for thousands of oxycodone pills.


BATON ROUGE- Federal Agents temporarily shut down and raided a local doctor's office, intercepting patients who pulled into the parking lot for their appointments.

The raid unfolded at the Louisiana Spine and Sports Medicine Clinic off Bluebonnet Boulevard near Old Jefferson Highway. Exactly what the feds were looking for is unclear. However, the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained documents that show several employees have a history of getting into trouble there.

Last year, Christopher Armstrong, a physician assistant was arrested. He is accused of prescribing more than 200 controlled substances to people who weren't patients there.

As people arrived for their appointments, they were turned away and told the clinic was closed. When we went looking for answers as to why the feds were there, we were told "no comment."

One patient told WBRZ, she has been going to the clinic since 2000. She needs pain medicine to survive. 

"They give me pain medicine, and I come once a month and they recheck me," A woman who wanted to be identified only by her first name, Rachel said.

The distribution of pain medicine has been a problem in the past for some employees there. In addition to Armstrong, Abigail Peneguy was reprimanded for and her prescription writing authority revoked temporarily. Documents filed with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners states, "Frequently exceeded the scope of practice for physician assistants in connection with the clinical evaluation and renewal of controlled substances medications."

Additional documents obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show Doctor John Clark is one of the top prescribers in the state for oxycodone HCL, a powerful pain medication. A public watchdog group's recent check shows Clark filed more than 468 Medicare claims for oxycodone. He comes in 23rd out of all doctors in the state for issuing the drug.

As the feds continue their investigation, patients like Rachel call the clinic a life saver. She can't speak highly enough for the doctors who are working for their patients.

"I went through multiple tests, MRIs, CAT Scans, all that type of stuff before they ever gave me any pain medicine to make sure I had a problem," Rachel said.

The feds have 48 hours to file a return on their search warrant which could indicate what they were looking for. As of late this afternoon, nothing was filed with the Clerk's Office in the Middle District of Louisiana.

We were told Dr. Clark had no comment about today's story. The FBI also declined to comment.

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