Cuyahoga County

Pill mill doctor headed for prison

4/5/2016
Cleveland – The doctor behind a Westlake “pill mill” that pumped thousands of prescription painkillers and other dangerous narcotics on to the street of Greater Cleveland has been sentenced to 36 months in prison, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced.

Dr. Ronald Celeste, 57, entered a plea of guilty in February to 35 counts of Drug Trafficking. Celeste was sentenced today by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph D. Russo.

As part of his plea agreement, Celeste also agreed to give up his medical license.

A two-year investigation by the Lakewood Police Department’s Narcotics Unit, the West Shore Enforcement Bureau and Ohio Pharmacy Board investigators uncovered evidence that Celeste wrote more than 33,000 prescriptions for controlled substances from 2009 to 2011. The drugs, often prescribed in large quantities and in dangerous combinations, included OxyContin, Percocet, Codeine, Valium and other commonly abused prescription narcotics.

Undercover visits to Celeste’s West Shore Family Practice office in Westlake found that the doctor indiscriminately dispersed scheduled narcotics, engaged in only superficial medical treatment and failed to meet even minimal standards of medical practice.

“The sheer numbers of prescriptions and dosage units that he was handing out are totally inconsistent with any legitimate medical need,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney James A. Gutierrez, who represented the State of Ohio along with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer L. O’Malley. “His ‘patients’ came for drugs, not for medical care, and that is exactly what they got.”

APA Gutierrez added, “Cuyahoga County is battling an epidemic of heroin and opioid addiction that killed more than 200 people last year, and many of them got hooked on prescription drugs that they obtained from unscrupulous doctors like Ronald Celeste.”

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us