A Gretna doctor suspected of running a pill mill and raking in almost $14 million over a 10-year period has surrendered his medical license, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA said in a news release that multiple agencies have been investigating Dr. Wayne Celestine, owner of Integrity Pain Management Clinic on Commerce Street, for several years.
"One of the most significant challenges law enforcement faces today is the alarming increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers. To have a medical professional, who is bound by an oath to adhere to the highest moral, ethical, and legal principles and fully aware of the power of these controlled substances abusing his privileges, is a total betrayal of his profession," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam.
Agents got a tip that Celestine had made large cash deposits at banks, more than $414,000 from January 2012 to November 2012, structured to circumvent federal reporting requirements.
Agents also learned that Celestine only accepted cash at his business for many years and only recently began accepting credit cards and money orders.
Undercover operations began when investigators learned that the pain management clinic was prescribing large quantities of controlled substances.
The DEA had confidential sources buy pills from Dr. Celestine, who was prescribing them for no medical reason and outside the course of a legitimate medical practice.
People had complained for years about long lines outside the clinic.
From 2008 to 2018, Dr. Celestine has earned approximately $13.8 million from his pill mill operation, according to the DEA.
On February 22, 2018, agents executed search and seizure warrants in four locations in the New Orleans area: Celestine's pain management clinic in Gretna, along with three homes: 91 English Turn Ct., New Orleans; 36 Seven Oaks Rd, Marrero, and 20415 Military Heights Rd., Covington. All of the locations are associated with Dr. Celestine.
Agents have seized Celestine's bank accounts, vehicles and other assets, with a value of about $1.5 million.