Here’s how the discovery of a dead body in Wythe County stopped a doctor’s opioid distribution scheme

Doctor allegedly had arrangement with patients to give opioids to his wife

Nadja Kujanson-Lelio, 50, and David Lelio, 57, appeared in U.S. District Court in Abingdon on Wednesday, where they each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute prescription opioids, specifically oxycodone. (WSLS via Santa Rosa County Jail)

ABINGDON, Va. – What started with the discovery of a dead body in Wythe County has progressed to two guilty pleas in federal court.

A Charlotte, North Carolina-based psychiatrist and his wife pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that they conspired to illegally distribute prescription opioids to patients in Virginia, some of whom lived in Wythe County.

David Lelio, 57, and Nadja Kujanson-Lelio, 50, appeared in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, each pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute prescription opioids, specifically oxycodone.

Lelio also pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen.

Between 2016 and 2019, the couple admitted that Lelio wrote more than 60 prescriptions for oxycodone to patients and that these prescriptions did not have a legitimate medical purpose.

Lelio wrote prescriptions for patients with the understanding that some or all of the prescriptions would be shared with his wife, according to Cullen.

Cullen said the couple would reimburse patients for the cost of filling the prescriptions.

During the investigation, Lelio lied to law enforcement when he said there wasn’t an agreement with any of his patients to give some of the opioids to his wife, according to Cullen.


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