Sedrick Hodge had a short but successful career in the NFL, playing as a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints from 2001-05. During that time, he racked up 208 tackles and one sack before been traded to the Miami Dolphins ahead of the 2006 season. Just prior to the start of the year, though, he was cut by the Dolphins and made a quiet exit from the league.
He has found limited post-NFL success and apparently wanted to take his entrepreneurial endeavors to new heights. Those new heights included being involved in the illegal distribution of opioids and other prescription drugs, and Hodge is now going to have to answer for his crimes. He and a Georgia doctor have been arrested for their activities and both are looking at a long list of charges.
Hodge is looking at six counts of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, as well as one count of distribution of controlled substances and conspiracy to launder money. He was allegedly involved in the activity with his wife, Farrah, who is facing a charge of conspiracy to launder money.
The former North Carolina Tarheel standout had connected with Dr. Victor Hanson, who operated a weight loss clinic in Sandy Springs, GA close to Atlanta. The 86-year-old doctor, according to US Attorney Byung J. Pak, allegedly wrote “numerous illegitimate prescriptions for drugs, including powerful opioid painkillers. While Hanson prescribed these drugs without a legitimate medical purpose, Sedrick Hodge and other associates allegedly sold these drugs in communities like Cartersville.”
Those other associates included 35-year-old Marcus McConnell, who has also been charged in conjunction with the case. He is to appear before a judge to answer to three counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
After purchasing the drugs, Hodge and McConnell allegedly sold them on the street for cash. Prosecutors have alleged that they uncovered evidence that the two had been selling oxycodone, alprazolam, hydrocodone and others during an investigation.
The US Attorney’s Office (USAO) issued a statement, explaining, “The indictment alleges that Hanson prescribed these controlled substances irrespective of any legitimate medical purpose, outside the usual course of professional practice, and in inappropriate amounts and dosage combinations. He prescribed these drugs to individuals without conducting thorough medical examinations or—at times—any examinations at all.”
Hanson was presented a 24-count indictment related to his activity, and has already pleaded not guilty to the charges. He asserts that the 40-year-old Hodge and his wife are close friends and that he legitimately prescribed the medication. He adds, “I do not operate a pill mill. I see people. I practice medicine. I relieve pain.”
The elderly physician is going to have to answer to 14 counts of illegal drug distribution, with the addition ten charges including opioid distribution, conspiracy to launder money and maintaining a premise for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance. His defense that Hodge and his wife are friends won’t be enough to sway a court, as Hanson reportedly also wrote several prescriptions to undercover DEA agents who were investigating him. The fact that he would only allow the pills to be purchased with cash or checks is also a point against him.
The DEA’s Robert J. Murphy, who was involved in the undercover investigation, adds, “Americans rely on healthcare providers, many of them Medical Doctors, to use their training to help patients and to ‘do no harm.’ Dr. Hanson violated the law and betrayed the responsibilities of his profession by prescribing controlled substances, to include opioids, outside the usual course of professional practice. In addition, former professional football player Sedrick Hodge sold illegitimate oxycodone pills from Dr. Hanson on the streets for cash. DEA, its law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office are committed to stopping unscrupulous medical professionals like Dr. Hanson from harming patients.”
The USAO, in conjunction with other federal organizations, has been trying to crack down on the proliferation of prescription drugs like opioids, which led to 400,000 deaths in the US between 1999 and 2017. It has launched an initiative called SCOPE – Strategically Combating Opioids through Prosecution and Enforcement – that works to identify possible illegal drug activity by looking at physicians and the prescriptions they write.