The investigation into the charges of illegal opioid distribution against the late Dr. Vincent K. Jones and the final hours of his life became clearer on Tuesday.
Judge Jackson Kiser of U.S. District Court in Danville unsealed a 7-count indictment against Jones, a Martinsville-area internist.
Officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Sept. 23 when they found Jones unresponsive and dramatically tried to save his life. He died the next day.
A grand jury had returned the indictment on Sept. 19, and it was sealed for 30 days or until Jones was in custody, whichever was sooner. A motion from Thomas Cullen, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Miller said because Jones is deceased, disclosure of the indictment “will not jeopardize the investigation.”
The charges were dropped officially on Wednesday.
The indictment says Jones was the sole owner of Community Family Care at 1856 Virginia Ave. in Collinsville and was the sole licensed medical provider there. He had a registration number issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that allowed him “to order, dispense and prescribe controlled substances for legitimate medical purposes in the usual course of his professional practice.”
The indictment specifies that controlled substances are assigned one of five schedules, Schedule I, II, III, IV or V, depending on their potential for abuse, likelihood of physical or psychological dependency, accepted medical use and accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
The indictment says that Jones is alleged to have “knowingly and intentionally distributed” Schedule II controlled substances over a 4-year period “outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, by issuing prescriptions:
- Count 1: A prescription written on May 15, 2018, to “A.K” for 60 dosage units (in other words, pills) of oxycodone 5mg/acetametaphine 325ng (Percocet).
- Count 2: A prescription written Feb. 5, 2018, to “C.K.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 20 mg.
- Count 3: A prescription written March 2, 2018, to “C.K.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 30 mg.
- Count 4: A prescription written April 9, 2018, to “C.K.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 30 mg.
- Count 5: A prescription written Feb. 13, 2015, to “L.O.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 10 mg.
- Count 6: A prescription written March 13, 2015, to “L.O.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 10mg.
- Count 7: A prescription written April 10, 2015, to “L.O.” for 120 dosage units of oxycodone HCL 10 mg.
The indictment uses initials for recipients of the prescriptions to protect the individuals who are not being charged with a crime.
The indictment also includes a notice of forfeiture for four cashier’s checks drawn July 17 at BB&T bank for $45,839.80. The document doesn’t say how they specifically relate the charges.
Katherine Hayek, a spokesperson for the DEA, on Tuesday described the events of Sept. 23, when officers of the DEA and Martinsville Police Department went to Jones’ home at 1308 Cardinal Lane in Martinsville to arrest him. Her account matches the descriptions earlier provided by a neighbor of Jones.
She said when officers knocked on the door, there was no answer, and the vehicle officers commonly had seen Jones driving was gone. An officer waited on Cardinal Lane, and another went to his medical clinic. He wasn’t there either, Hayek said.
Officers subsequently went to Ruths Creek Road (in the Carver community), an area where Jones has owned properties, to try to serve the arrest warrant. A gate prevented officers from getting onto the property, but they could see Jones’ vehicle.
They walked up to a building and knocked on the door. There was no answer. The gate opened for a car (an unidentified relative of Jones’ had arrived). Officers identified themselves, and the relative gave them permission to come on the property.
The relative walked officers over to a workshop, which officers searched. No one was there even though Jones’ vehicle was, Hayek said.
In another building, a TV was playing, and officers saw a sandwich inside, both indicating someone was there.
They could see through a window that someone was lying on the floor in the bathroom area.
The relative did not have a key, but he gave officers permission to kick down the door. They found Jones lying face down and breathing very shallow, Hayek said.
Officers were assessing him and trying to keep him breathing, and they called 911 for medical assistance. Before emergency medical personnel arrived, Jones stopped breathing, and officers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. When emergency medical personnel arrived, they took over CPR, Hayek said.
“I think it was an unfortunate event,” she said. “He became unresponsive before we got there. I do think the actions of the DEA and MPD [Martinsville Police Department] are extraordinarily heroic.”
According to 911 records, arrangements were made for a helicopter to take Jones to the landing zone at Sovah Health-Martinsville. At 1:31 p.m., while en route to the hospital, Fieldale-Collinsville Rescue Squad notified 911 that the patient [Jones] was “code blue” again, and they resumed CPR.
FCRS arrived at the hospital at 1:36 p.m. Both 911 Director J.R. Powell and Henry County Public Safety Director Matt Tatum said their agencies’ records do not indicate what happened to the patient after he was taken there. They didn’t know if he was admitted to the hospital or flown by helicopter somewhere else. A spokesperson for the hospital has declined to comment.
Tracie Cooper, district administrator for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke, had said earlier that Jones died Sept. 24. She said again Tuesday that the cause and manner of death remain pending.
Asked about the status of the investigation now that Jones is deceased, Hayek said, “It’s completely over. There is no investigation after he passes away. No one else is being investigated under the Jones indictment.”
As for how the asset forfeiture would proceed, Hayek said, “It's a question the lawyers are currently working on.”
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.