The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has charged Kenny Knight, a longtime associate of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, with running a “pill mill” out of a New Orleans East pain management clinic.
A federal judge Thursday unsealed a 22-page criminal complaint that accuses Knight of conspiring with Dr. Barbara A. Bruce to dole out prescription painkillers to friends and patients without conducting the required medical exams.
Knight’s business, the Axcess Medical Clinic on Lake Forest Boulevard, took only cash and attracted addicts who traveled for hours to get to it, according to the DEA.
Staff members are accused of conducting sham therapy sessions and distributing pills to patients who would resell the narcotics in other cities like Houston.
At least three fatal overdoses have been “associated with Bruce,” according to federal court papers.
Knight is accused not only of sanctioning the scheme but also of pressuring Bruce to see more patients, a directive that apparently led to a falling out between them.
He kept close tabs on the clinic, communicated directly with patients, manipulated medical records and stored the clinic’s mainframe computer at his home, the DEA alleges.
Knight wasn’t originally charged last year when Bruce and a nurse, Theresa “Tammy” Schlosser, were arrested, though it was clear at the time the DEA had been monitoring him closely.
Bruce, who is scheduled for trial in May, told federal authorities months after her arrest that Knight had been “absolutely aware of the activities that were going on” at the clinic, according to the complaint against him, signed by Special Agent Kelly Halliday.
Knight said by phone Friday that he wanted to speak to his attorney before commenting on the charges.
Knight has been a close associate of Duke’s for decades, serving as a political adviser and managing some of Duke’s various campaigns for public office. He also has been involved in a variety of white nationalist groups, including the Euro-American Unity and Rights Organization.
That organization, commonly known as EURO, is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Knight and EURO were briefly in the spotlight in 2014 after it was revealed that U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise had spoken at one of the organization’s conferences in Jefferson Parish in 2002.
Scalise, now the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, was a state lawmaker at the time who represented the Jefferson district and had been invited to the event by Knight. Scalise has apologized for speaking at the conference, referring to the organization as “a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn.”
The DEA interviewed other employees of the pain clinic who similarly implicated Knight.
Schlosser, for instance, said it had been understood that Knight, after hiring Bruce, would remain in charge of the clinic “even though everything on paper stated Bruce was the owner,” the complaint says.
Bruce and Schlosser were arrested amid a prescription pill crackdown that the DEA dubbed “Operation Pilluted.” The 15-month probe, led by the agency’s New Orleans Field Division, resulted in nearly 300 arrests across four states.
The Axcess Medical Clinic has been under federal investigation since 2010. Knight moved the clinic to Picayune, Mississippi, shortly after the DEA began its probe, and reopened it in New Orleans East in 2014.
The criminal complaint against Knight was filed under seal about a month ago in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. Prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office filed a motion Thursday requesting that it be unsealed because Knight had been arrested.
Staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.
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