HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A doctor caught up in what prosecutors call the largest prescription opioid prescriber takedown in US history has pleaded not guilty.
Dr. Marshall Plotka appeared in federal court in Huntsville on Monday and a judge says he'll remain in prison, citing what he calls "clear and convincing evidence of danger to the community."
Last month, Phoenix Emergency Care was raided and shut down by federal agents.
It's causing headaches for many patients in North Alabama who rely on this clinic for medication.
"I had no idea what they were doing over there," former Phoenix patient Mary Campbell said.
One month after finding out their doctor's office in Jones Valley had abruptly closed, both Campbell and Joyce Young aren't having luck finding a new physician.
"It's hard to get in somewhere," Campbell said.
"He can't say a lot, that's what he told us," Young said after trying to get answers from experts.
It's been several weeks of non-answers and the runaround for Young, who has osteoporosis and Campbell, who has arthritis and is a cancer survivor. Both women say they take three Percocets a day to manage the pain. But since Dr. Marshall Plotka was arrested and Phoenix Clinic was closed, they can't get their medical records or a new doctor to prescribe a painkiller.
"I can't take anything that has aspirin in it," Campbell said.
"Every place has got to have your records. The last three months' worth," Young said.
Phoenix Clinic and Dr. Plotka remain part of a federal investigation, with no sign the clinic will reopen any time soon. Both Young and Campbell say their choices are to try and tough it out or pick up something over the counter, which both agree isn't cutting it.
Dr. Plotka is accused of hiring women as prostitutes, recruiting them into a drug scheme, then allowing them to use illegal drugs, including meth and heroin in his home. Young and Campbell say they're hoping something can be resolved soon so other legitimate patients can get their records back and find a new doctor.