Doctor of suspected Gretna 'pill mill' pleads not guilty in court

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The doctor of a Gretna pain management clinic made his first appearance in court Tuesday after federal agents raided his practice in February.

Celestine pleaded not guilty.

He faces one count of conspiring to illegally prescribe federally controlled substances including drugs like oxycodone and morphine out of the Gretna pain management center.

If convicted, Celestine faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Federal prosecutors took their time to outline three important points to the judge: Celestine is a flight risk, a danger to the community and had the propensity to obstruct justice.

In the end, the judge agreed that he was a flight risk because Celestine did not admit to owning a plane and having a license to fly it, as well as his history in prescribing dangerous addictive drugs.

Celestine left the courtroom in a jail jumpsuit and handcuffs. His passport and other items seized, like property, vehicles, and cash, will remain in government custody.

Celestine will have a preliminary hearing beginning of June.