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80-year-old Hilo doctor and several office workers indicted in prescription drug conspiracy

A federal grand jury has indicted an 80-year-old Hilo doctor for allegedly prescribing large amounts of powerful painkillers to patients without conducting examinations.

The grand jury indicted Dr. Ernest Bade of the Bade Medical Clinic Wednesday with 40 counts of “distribution of a controlled substance outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Hawaii.

Bade, who operated a medical clinic at 260 Osorio Lane in Hilo, was also charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.

The grand jury also charged four of Bade’s employees with conspiracy to either distribute or fraudulently obtain controlled substances.

Yvonne Caitano, 54, the clinic’s office manager, was charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.

Caitano, and Sheena Strong, 32, an office assistant, were charged with a separate conspiracy to further distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Caitano, Strong and office assistants Marie Benevides, 80, and Theresa Saltus, 59, were charged with ”conspiracy to obtain controlled substances through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge.”

An investigation was initiated in 2015 after several sources told law enforcement that Bade was prescribing unusually large amounts of controlled substances that include powerful opiods such as fentanyl and morphine.

According to the indictment, Bade prescribed an undercover agent with multiple prescriptions of controlled substances after conducting only “cursory examinations.” He also provided the agent with refills for the prescriptions without any follow-up appointments.

When several pharmacies in Hilo refused to fill Bade’s prescriptions, Caitano, Strong, Benevides and Saltus allegedly conspired to fly to Kahului to fill and pick up numerous prescriptions.

The indictment also claimed that Caitano and Strong obtained large amounts of controlled substances via signed prescriptions by Bade which they sold to other individuals for a profit.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Bade, Caitano and Strong each face up to 20 years in prison for the alleged offenses. Both Benevides and Saltus face up to four years in prison.

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