Two men who operated Hixson pill mill sentenced for contributing to opioid crisis

72-year-old Timothy Gowder of Oak Ridge and 56-year-old Anwar Mithavayani of Boca Raton, Florida were both convicted earlier this year conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs, and for money laundering. Gowder received a sentence of 21 years of imprisonment. Mithavayani received a sentence of 25 years of imprisonment. (Images: Laurel County, KY Jail / WTVC)

The U.S. Department of Justice says two men who worked at a pain clinic in Hixson that was open for business between 2011 and 2016 will both spend lengthy prison terms for contributing to the nation's opioid crisis.

"The defendants’ callous actions undoubtedly contributed to the current opioid crisis. We remain resolute in our commitment to hold accountable drug traffickers who profit from addiction, including those who illegally deal drugs under the guise of medical care,” said United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr.

72-year-old Timothy Gowder of Oak Ridge and 56-year-old Anwar Mithavayani of Boca Raton, Florida were both convicted earlier this year conspiring to distribute oxycodone and other drugs, and for money laundering. Gowder received a sentence of 21 years of imprisonment. Mithavayani received a sentence of 25 years of imprisonment.

Gowder was the medical director at the Tennessee Pain Institute (TPI), a pain clinic that operated from 2011 to 2016 in Hixson. Mithavayani was a co-owner of the clinic with Pete Tyndale.

Agents raided TPI, which was near Northgate Mall, back in May of 2016.

According to the DEA, the clinic came under suspicion after being linked to an overdose death in Kentucky. Agents also grew suspicious when they learned many people were traveling to the Hixson clinic from southeastern Kentucky.

At the time of the raid, patients in the office refused to go on camera but said they were "shocked" and said that they thought clinic was a doctor's office, not a clinic.

After a month-long trial earlier this year, a jury convicted Gowder, Mithavayani, and Tyndale of operating TPI as a pill mill, and for money laundering related to proceeds from TPI.

The three men were responsible for the illicit distribution of more than 1.6 million oxycodone 30mg pills, and hundreds of thousands of other narcotic pills and sedative pills, such as Xanax. The Justice Department says about half of TPI’s pill customers were traveling from eastern Kentucky.

Paul Fuchcar is the Executive Director of CADAS, a rehabilitation center in Chattanooga.

He says many changes have happened to help stop situations like this.

Particularly a database for pharmacies and physicians where both report when a prescription is filled or given for any kind of opioid.

For the first time in several years both the number of prescriptions for opiates and the potency of those prescriptions have started to trend down slightly, Fuchcar explained.

Under federal law, Gowder and Mithavayani each must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence. Upon release, both will be under the supervision of the United States Probation Office for three years. The Court also imposed a fine of $250,000 and a community restitution award of $200,000 upon Gowder. Mithavayani must pay a $500,000 fine and a $400,000 community restitution award.

Co-defendants Tyndale and James Bradley Combs will be sentenced later this month. Co-defendant Larry Karr of Keavy, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge in May of 2018, and was later sentenced to 108 months in prison.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, the IRS, and the Kentucky Attorney’s General Office as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented in the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Rosenberg.

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