Federal raid of Hilo clinic leads to arrest of doctor for alleged drug trafficking

Four other employees were taken into custody as part of a three-year investigation.

Federal raid of Hilo clinic leads to arrest of doctor for alleged drug trafficking

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A long time Hilo doctor is in federal custody, accused of drug trafficking by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

A Hawaii News Now camera was there as 80-year old Dr. Ernest Bade, along with four of his employees, were arrested by federal agents and deputy sheriffs on Tuesday after a raid at his clinic in Hilo at 260 Osorio Lane.

The four employees, court records indicate, are 80-year-old Marie Benevides, 59-year-old Theresa Saltus, 54-year-old Yvonne Caitano, and 32-year-old Sheena Strong. All four have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess controlled substances.

Court records indicate the DEA had been using undercover agents to investigate the clinic since 2015. One agent, the records indicate, reported that Dr. Bade prescribed him painkillers without even doing an examiniation.

The documents also show that Saltus, Caitano and Strong would regularly fly from Hilo to Kahului to fill prescriptions signed by Dr. Bade for high quantities of opioids, including oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl and hydrocodone.

The women would allegedly visit two pharmacies on Maui because the office was ‘cut off’ by Hilo pharmacies for over-prescribing. In addition to the undercover agents, a teenaged foster child, living with Strong, provided information to agents.

The teen was forced to run the drugs to and from customers off clinic property. Court documents say the teen would get verbally or physically abused if the exact amount of money would not come back.

All will remain in the Federal Detention Center for at least another night, until their next hearing Thursday to determine if they will be allowed to post bond.

“Given the age of several of the defendants, they’re in their 70′s and 80′s, so it’s a shock to them none have any previous arrests,” says Myles Breiner, the attorney for Yvonne Caitano, “They’re all distressed. They all have medical issues, physical issues which require medication.”

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