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Former Las Vegas doctor pleads guilty in prescription drug scheme

Former Las Vegas physician Sebastian M. Paulin Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court Monday in a scheme to unlawfully distribute prescription painkillers and hide money from the IRS.

Paulin, 69, pleaded guilty to one count of drug distribution and one count of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements, both felonies.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan set his sentencing for Dec. 14.

Paulin, who is free on his own recognizance, was originally indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2011 on 11 counts of drug distribution, structuring and money laundering.

A year later his wife and office manager, Estelita Paulin, was added as a defendant in a new indictment. She is facing money laundering and structuring charges and is to stand trial before Mahan in December.

The government is seeking forfeiture of $1.2 million from the couple.

State records show that Dr. Paulin surrendered his medical license in March 2012 under the weight of the federal investigation.

Federal prosecutors alleged that between March 2010 and August 2011 Paulin sold prescriptions for the addictive painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone to people who did not medically need the drugs and deposited the proceeds in a manner designed to avoid tax laws.

Paulin, who maintained a family medical practice at 620 E. Twain Ave., circumvented currency transaction reporting laws when he deposited the cash earned from the sales into personal bank accounts, his indictment charged. He made or assisted in making 69 cash deposits totaling $689,291.

With defense lawyer William Gamage at his side, Paulin on Monday admitted in court that he carried out the prescription scheme.

Paulin is one of a string of physicians charged in an ongoing crackdown on prescription abuse in Southern Nevada over the past several years. U.S Attorney Daniel Bogden has promised more indictments in the future.

According to prosecutors, more people die from prescription drug abuse in Clark County than from methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine use combined.

The Paulin investigation was conducted by a joint task force involving the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation and the Las Vegas and Henderson police departments.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane Pomerantz is prosecuting the case.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter @JGermanRJ

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