A doting grandmother to her 7-year-old grandson. A thrower of parties for the ages. A healthcare administrator. A businesswoman to rival the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. All of this describes 51-year-old native of Florida, Sylvia Hofstetter, who settled in Knoxville, Tennessee. Well, that and runner of the largest drug operation in the history of east Tennessee.
Yes, Ms. Hofstetter’s home was raided by the FBI on March 10th. She ran ‘pill mills’ – pain clinics, many of them, serving up pills for as many as 100 addicts a day, some of which were cash-only transactions. She did indeed have legitimate, insurance-accepting operations as well, but those often referred the ‘patients’ to clinics to other facilities where prescriptions for oxycodone and other narcotics were handed out like Grand Opening flyers. One was even located between a waffle house and an adult book store – a prime location for a legitimate clinic, wouldn’t you say? All told, she’d brought in $17.5 million in just four years.
She was able to start her medical ventures with the help of who Sylvia referred to as ‘The Italians,’ three men, also from Florida. Florida had started cracking down on pain clinics and had sent the owners and operators of said facilities scattering to places like Georgia, Tennessee, and a few other states. While Sylvia was in Florida, she noticed a ton of the customers from all over the country, both addicts and dealers, alike, were coming from Tennessee to get their product. So, she did what any good businesswoman would do and went to where the demand was. She set up shop in Knoxville and nearby Lenoir City. Some of these would see up to 1,000 ‘patients’ a month.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Stone said at her hearing, “In a few short years, she went from a very modest income, for South Florida terms, to richer beyond probably her wildest dreams, with a lifestyle to match.”

In just the past few years, Sylvia had $6,000,000 worth of transactions at casinos. But her tax returns didn’t reflect even an iota of this sort of income, much less the disposable sort.

FBI agents seized two Lexus automobiles, multiple big-screen TVs, and more than a hundred pieces of jewelry, including a Rolex watch, diamond rings, and a host of other valuables. They have also seized her home and several of those pain clinics. It’s estimated by the FBI that about 12,000,000 prescriptions for the likes of oxycodone and morphine were given by her various locations in those four short years. Each visit costing the patients between $325 and $350.

She’s been charged with drug trafficking, multiple counts of money laundering, and money laundering conspiracy, and is now awaiting federal trial. But she’s not alone in her plight; so far, about 100 people have been charged in the case, including said patients, former employees of these clinics, and even a former police chief.

A judge said there was a risk Sylvia would flee, so he refused to release her from jail on bail before her trial.

“The evidence suggests that these clinics appear to be one thing on paper, but in reality are something else,” U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley said. “I'm concerned that the picture painted of Ms. Hofstetter is the same.”

This is her home which was seized by Authorties