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About Us

Who We Are
Concerned pain physicians, other physicians, and midlevels engaged in the treatment of chronic pain.
What We Do
Develop standards for ethical behavior of both patients and physicians in the realm of pain, and provide single website source
Governance
The Board is composed of pain physicians practicing more than 50% full time pain but cannot serve more than 2 years as chair.
Where We Are Going
Working to define pain regulation preemptively, malpractice/substance abuse patient accountability and research facilitation
Contact Us
Email: algosdoc1@yahoo.com Telephone: APM 812-342-8300

Hot Button

CRNAs = MD Pain Docs

Nov 2, 2012 In an unprecidented diminishment in quality of care, the CMS in one fell swoop has elevated the entire CRNA profession to that of BC fellowship trained physicians for the sake of "patient access".


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Doctors in Trouble

Doctors Charged or Convicted of Drug Crimes.... Because of the increasing numbers of physicians charged with crimes associated with the practice of pain medicine, this article is continually updated with newspaper articles and investigative reports nationwide regarding this growing issue.


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IN Supreme Court

Victory for Physicians over Trial Lawyers in Plank Case: Battle is Won But the War Is Not Over In January 2013, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the statute of limitations to file a challenge to the constitutionality of the Indiana...


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Meningitis Outbreak

INDIANA PAIN SOCIETY PRESS RELEASE 11/1/12 QUESTIONS ABOUT EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTIONS Recently Indiana became one of the many states involved in a large-scale series of meningitis infections occurring due to epidural steroid injections using contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate obtained from...


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Opting Out/Disenroll

OPTING OUT/DISENROLLING FROM ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS COVERAGE


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VA Will Join INSPECT

Department of Veterans Affairs Issues Interim Final Rule on Providing Information to PDMPs In what will be viewed as welcome news, The Department of Veterans Affairs today issued interim final rules allowing the sharing of prescription information...


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LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST PHYSICIANS


 

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April 1, 2013  Accused Pill Mill Doctor Charged by Feds  

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Federal  prosecutors have charged a Texas 
doctor who recently practiced in Logan County  in connection with an alleged 
Logan County pill mill.  
Dr. Fernando Gonzales-Ramos, 47, of El Paso, Texas, was charged with  
conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances without a legitimate  
medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.  
Gonzales-Ramos was arrested on March 3 following a raid at his office by 
West  Virginia State Police, the Logan County Sheriff's office and the FBI. 
Gonzales-Ramos was charged last week in a legal filing known as an  
information, which typically signals that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty  
and is cooperating with prosecutors.  
Prosecutors say from December 2012 through March 3, 2013, Gonzales-Ramos  
knowingly dispensed controlled substances for illegitimate medical purposes.  
According to a criminal complaint by the FBI, Gonzales-Ramos distributed  
narcotics out of a Logan building that lacked running water and basic medical 
equipment. A person cooperating with authorities paid $450 for a 
hydrocodone  prescription, and agents found several other people inside the building 
waiting  to get prescriptions. 
The investigation also revealed that employees working in the building at 
the  time were an armed security guard, a bodyguard carrying brass knuckles, 
and a  nurse/receptionist.  
"As alleged, this doctor;s criminal conduct is shocking," said U.S. 
Attorney  Booth Goodwin. "He ran a phony medical practice that was really nothing 
more  than a drug den. It's appalling that a licensed physician would pump 
illegal  pills into our communities like this."  
Rod Smith, an attorney for Gonzales-Ramos, declined to comment. 
Gonzales-Ramos faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine 
as a result of the charge filed by Goodwin. No court date has been set. 

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April 1, 2013 Princeton, IN Doctor Sentenced

 

Judge accepts plea deal

PRINCETON—A Chicago-area physician surrenders his Indiana medical license but serves no jail time in a felony plea deal approved Monday in Gibson Superior Court.

 

Christopher C. May was sentenced Monday morning to 36 months of probation for the Class D felony conviction to violating state law regulating prescription of controlled substances.

In exchange for the guilty plea, the prosecution dropped 17 felony counts concerning an alleged conspiracy to dispense fraudulent prescriptions for a controlled substance and to commit insurance fraud.

Terms of the plea deal allow May’s probation to be handled in Cook County, Ill. If his probation is completed successfully, the agreement reserves his right to petition the court to have the felony conviction entered as a Class A misdemeanor.

Judge Earl Penrod told May that he has the right to petition to have the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, but it’s not an automatic reduction.

The judge noted that the plea deal makes no mention of what would happen to May’s Illinois medical license, but defense attorney Steve Whitehead told the judge “both Indiana and Illinois are acutely aware” of the case.

Penrod said that he didn’t have any significant information about the case, which he described as “unusual...by its very nature,” but believed the plea deal is a legitimate resolution of the matter. “This doesn’t appear to do severe violence to the interest of justice,” he remarked.

May was arrested last spring after a former Princeton patient, Hannah E. Winkler, pled guilty to criminal charges that required her to cooperate with authorities investigating allegations that May provided Winkler with prescriptions for controlled substances, made out to Winkler’s mother, who reportedly told police she had never been May’s patient.

Conditions of May’s plea deal include no contact with Winkler or her mother.

According to court documents, the police investigation began in April, 2011, when a local pharmacist contacted Winkler’s mother about a suspicious-looking prescription

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March 29, 2013  Manhattan NY Doctor Nabbed

Members of the New York City office of the Drug Enforcement Administration disclosed on Thursday that a medical center's owner and his closest
associate were successfully indicted and arrested in an elaborate narcotics diversion investigation spanning three states. 

Dr. Hector Castro, a medical physician specializing in internal medicine, and his office manager, Patricia Valera, were arrested in connection with
widespread illegal trafficking in oxycodone in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Oxycodone is a powerful painkiller belonging to the opiate family.

Another 47 suspects were arrested this week, including the leaders of two major drug trafficking networks in Pennsylvania, as a result of a long-term investigation dubbed
"Operation Cuba Libre." Agents and officers seized 30 guns in a series of court authorized searches, including two in New York and 28 in Pennsylvania.
Castro, the founder and medical director of Itzamna Medical Center at 205 East 16th Street in the exclusive Gramercy Park section of Manhattan, and his office manager Patricia Valera (aka Patricia Rodriguez), are believed to have carried out two separate prescription-related criminal schemes that together resulted in the
diversion of well over a half-million narcotic pills   worth at least $10 million onto the black market. 

Castro's medical center was located adjacent to what New York cops call bed-pan alley due to the number of major hospitals in the immediate area
including Beth Israel Medical Center, Hospital for Joint Diseases, Bellevue Hospital and others.  The schemes are the subject of two indictments filed by the Special
Narcotics Prosecutors ' Office: one against Castro and the second against Valera, her husband Hector Rodriguez and three other defendants who were arrested in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday. The other 43 arrested suspects were charged in Pennsylvania.  The 15-month investigation was conducted by the Special Narcotics
Prosecutor's Prescription Drug Investigation Unit and the New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force, Group Z-23, which is comprised of DEA agents, NYPD
detectives and Homeland Security Investigations agents, with assistance from partners in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force.

As a result of the investigation, Castro   is charged with illegally selling 39 prescriptions for a controlled substance for $125 each, including 28 prescriptions sold to a Special Narcotics undercover officer. Agents and investigators arrested the doctor  at his home at 540 West 52nd Street also in Manhattan. 

Court authorized searches of Castro's home and office resulted in the seizure of approximately $20,000 in cash from a locked box, as well as medical records and computer equipment.   The investigation revealed an extensive interstate network of narcotics traffickers who got prescriptions for controlled substances from Castro and
Valera. Notably, the New York State Department of Health  cannot track prescriptions filled out-of-state through its Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). 

Between September 2011 and February 2013, New Jersey pharmacies dispensed nearly 500,000 oxycodone pills based on over 4,500 prescriptions
originating from Castro's Manhattan office. In New York, pharmacies dispensed approximately 75,000 pills based on approximately 600 similar prescriptions between August 2009 and January 2013. During the course of this investigation, the street price for a 30 mg oxycodone tablet was between $20 and $30. 

Valera, an office manager at Itzamna Medical Center, is charged with carrying out her own forgery and criminal diversion scheme. Neither Castro
nor his physician brother, who is co-founder of Itzamna Medical Center, is charged with knowing about that scheme. Castro's brother is not accused of
any wrongdoing, according to the DEA

According to the prosecutor, Bridget G. Brennan, Valera faces 464 charges stemming from 155 prescription sheets that she stole from Castro and his
brother, and then forged and sold for $500 per sheet. Many of the 155 forged prescriptions for controlled substances were purchased by two competing
prescription drug trafficking rings in Pennsylvania.

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March 23, 2013 California Pain Doctor's Offices Raided

Federal authorities Friday raided the office of a doctor suspected of prescribing narcotic painkillers and other widely abused medications to patients 
who had no legitimate need for them.  Undercover agents posed as patients at John Dimowo's offices in Wilmington  and Anaheim and were able to get prescriptions for addictive drugs without the  doctor examining them, the affidavit states.  Dimowo, a _pain_  doctor featured last year in _a  Times investigation_   into prescription overdose deaths, is a prolific prescriber of painkillers, such as _Vicodin_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/vicodin-(drug)-HEDAR000003.topic) ,  writing an 
average of at least 37 prescriptions a day, according to a search  warrant 
affidavit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. 
Dimowo, who has not been arrested or charged with a crime and remains free 
to  practice, declined to discuss the investigation. 
"I cannot talk to you," he said when contacted by telephone. "Call my  
attorney." 
Lawyers for Dimowo did not return calls requesting comment. 
Since at least 2011, the medical board has received complaints about 
Dimowo's  practice from family members of patients, pharmacists and others who 
believed  Dimowo's prescriptions were fueling his patients' addictions, 
according to the  affidavit. 
The Times reported in November that five of Dimowo's patients fatally  
overdosed on medications he prescribed between 2009 and 2010, coroner's records  
show. They ranged in age from 26 to 59. 
According to the affidavit, investigators were seeking the medical records 
of  patients who "possibly died of overdosing on prescription medication." 
The  medical board had obtained a list of dead patients from the Orange 
County  coroner's office after The Times' report, the affidavit said. 
Dimowo, a native of Nigeria, was trained in _anesthesiology_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/medical-specialization/anesthesiology-HEMSP00001.topic
)  and pain management in the United States. He is board-certified in both 
specialties. In 2007, after serving as a chief of anesthesia at Anaheim 
Regional  Medical Center, he opened his pain management practice because he 
wanted to  spend time with patients and help ease their suffering, Dimowo said 
in _an  interview with The Times_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/news/science/prescription/la-me-prescription-doctors-sidebar-20121108,0,1247309.htmlstory)  
last year. 
It can be difficult, he said, to tell whether someone truly needs narcotic  
painkillers or is simply looking to get high. 
"Pain is a difficult thing to define," he said in the interview. "You can't 
say, 'No. You don't have pain.... You're just seeking drugs.' It's very  
difficult to tell anybody that." 
But if he believes a patient is abusing drugs, he said, "they are out of my 
clinic. I would send them to a psychiatrist, because that's where they  
belong." 
Informed of the fatal overdoses identified by The Times, he said the 
patients  and their family members shared responsibility. 
"We all need to be vigilant," he said.**************************************************************************************************************************************************


February 28, 2013 Doctor, five others named in Garden  City pill mill scheme 

Savannah Now   Jan  Skutch

A medical doctor from Waycross and five others have been charged in a federal  indictment with conspiring to traffic in oxycodone, hydrocodone and 
other drugs  through a purported pain clinic known as East Health Center that operated in  Garden City.  The indictment, unsealed Monday, alleges that February through May 2011,  the  time East Health Center was open, members of the conspiracy unlawfully  prescribed and caused to be prescribed more than 4 million milligrams of  oxycodone without any legitimate medical purpose.  During this period, prescriptions were written for  numerous "patients" who lived outside the state of Georgia, including more than  130 from Kentucky; more than 50 from North Carolina; more than 30 from South  Carolina; and more than 80 from Florida. 
Named in the indictment were Dr. Najam Azmat, 55,  of Waycross; Sean Michael Clark, 34, Adelaida M. Lizama, 27, and Candace Anne  Carreras, 25, all of 
Boca Raton, Fla.; and Daniel John Wise, 34, and Shelly Lynn  Morford, 31, both of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  
Other targets of the investigation who have pleaded guilty for their role in  the East Health Center pill mill were:   Adelard LeFrancois III, 43, of Boca Raton; and Francis J. Barbuscia, 36, of  Plantation, Fla., who entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge  William T. Moore Jr. on Aug. 3. Each pleaded guilty to conspiring to 
dispense  controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a legitimate medical  purpose.   Constantinos Afthinos, 32, of Florida pleaded guilty to misprision of  
felony on Nov. 5.   Dr. Kenneth Gossett, 51, of Rome who pleaded guilty Nov. 7, to conspiring to dispense controlled substances, including oxycodone, without a 
legitimate  medical purpose.  "During the last two years, we've seen a number of pill mills relocate 
their  unlawful businesses to the state of Georgia," said U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver.  "These so-called clinics operate under the guise of a stethoscope and a white  coat, and they prey upon their so-called "patients."
"Any pill mills that seek to do business in the Southern District of Georgia  can expect to be investigated and prosecuted like every other drug-trafficking  organization that pushes poison in our communities." 
Harry S. Sommers, special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Division of  the Drug Enforcement Administration, reinforced Tarver's statement. 
"The DEA will continue to aggressively investigate those who cause to be dispensed addictive pain medications without legitimate medical purpose under the pretext of a medical doctor's care," Sommers said. 
The indictment results from a joint investigation by the DEA, IRS Criminal  Investigations, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Chatham Savannah Counter Narcotics Team and the U.S. Marshals Service. Personnel from the Ware County  Sheriff's office assisted in making arrests.

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February 21, 2013  Officials raid Dr. Paul Kelty's office Thursday morning in Corydon, Ind. 
Written by Grace Schneider The Courier-Journal

Indiana state troopers, federal drug agents and  Harrison County investigators raided the offices of a Corydon doctor Thursday  morning, searching for 
evidence of alleged Medicaid fraud, theft, sexual abuse  and prescription drug dealing. The investigation of obstetrician-gynecologist Paul  Kelty came after the 
Indiana Attorney General?s office was alerted about  unusually high numbers of prescriptions pain killers being written for Medicaid  patients, Harrison 
County Prosecutor Otto Schalk said. Kelty, who?s been licensed to practice medicine in  Indiana since 1979, has not been charged. He could not be reached for comment at  his office, and no telephone listing could be found for his Floyds Knobs  home. A woman who declined to identify herself at his  answering service said 
that  "today he is unavailable." She said that the office,  at 2000 Edsel Lane, would be open for normal business hours on Friday. Schalk said hundreds of patient records, computer files  and other items were seized. "This is a really big case," he said.  While it's unusual for officials to go public with  details of an ongoing 
investigation, he said, the allegations were unsealed in a  30-page search warrant affidavit Thursday morning.  According to an affidavit filed by Amy Sellers, an  investigator with the attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, an  investigation began when two Corydon pharmacies, CVS and Walgreens, contacted  the Indiana Pharmacy Board and reported that Kelty was prescribing the powerful,  and highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone to patients who appeared to be "drug  abusers."  Some patients were receiving a "cocktail" of  hydrocodone and the tranquilizer Xanax, the affidavit said.  According to the affidavit, an analysis of Kelty?s  record in a state prescription tracking database shows that the doctor had  written 31,949 prescriptions to 46 patients between 2008 and 2012 for 1.08  million pills. 
By cross referencing patient data, presciption claims  and the state's death registry, investigators also found that that six of  Kelty's patients who 
had been receiving prescriptions for controlled substances  died of drug overdoses, Sellers wrote in the affidavit.

She noted that proper pain management with opiates  seldom results in a patient's death.  The affidavit said the investigation showed some of  Kelty's patients 
received new prescriptions, not refills, for hydrocodone and  Xanax approximately every two weeks and records showed Kelty billed Medicaid  for the office 
visits.   Patients also told investigators of being touched,  caressed and patted inappropriately on the buttocks by the doctor during  examinations, the 
affidavit said. One told an investigator that the touch  brought her to orgasm, the affidavit said. Also, some patients reported receiving pain medications  while pregnant and of bearing babies who were born addicted to drugs, the  affidavit said. Investigators received permission in the search warrant  to seize cell 
phones, billing records, computer hard drives and patient files at  Kelty's one-story, brick office building, from his silver 2004 Acura TSX, and  from his 
home in the 2400 block of Old Vincennes Road. Kelty, who delivers babies at Norton Hospital in  Louisville, once was chief of the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology  department and president of the medical staff. In the fall of 2007, his former office manager, Susan  Vannis of Corydon, pleaded guilty to bilking him out of nearly $1 million over a  seven-year period by cashing in insurance-reimbursement checks. She was  sentenced to six years in prison with two years suspended under a plea agreement  that required her to repay $100,000. 

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Febrary 21, 2013  A Tennessee physician who recently ran pain clinics in  Nashville and Murfreesboro is under criminal investigation by federal officials  for his 
involvement with a Florida man who has pleaded guilty to federal charges  of overseeing the operation of a chain of pill  mills.

Records in U.S. District Court show that federal agents seized $151,310 in a  bank account maintained by Dr. Helmut Harnisch, charging that the money  
represented profits from illegal pill mills that the physician has run including  a clinic at 5010 Linbar Drive in Nashville. In papers filed in connection with the seizure, attorneys for Harnisch have asked for a stay, contending that defending against the seizure would put  Harnisch at risk of self-incrimination in the ongoing federal probe.  "A continuation of the forfeiture proceeding will burden the right of the  claimants against self incrimination in the related investigation, the 
motion  filed by Harnisch;s lawyer states. The stay was granted late last year by U.S. District Judge Todd J.  Campbell. Harnisch's attorney, Norman McKeller, said Wednesday that he could not  comment on the investigation. In a response filed in the seizure case by  McKeller, the charges of running a pill mill were repeatedly denied and labeled  "bald assertions."   U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin said he could not comment on pending cases but  stressed that prosecuting pill mill operators and other prescription drug abuses  is a top priority. In fact the agency is holding a series of training sessions  for law enforcement officials on how to investigate and prosecute pill mill  cases. "It's certainly got our attention," he said, adding that Tennessee has been  particularly hard hit by prescription drug abuses. 
License surrendered Harnisch also has been cited by the state Board of Medical Examiners for  improperly prescribing narcotics to five patients. 
In the consent order issued late last month, Harnisch was fined $1,000 and  his license was placed in voluntary retired status. Harnisch must complete a series of medical education courses before he can  apply to have his license returned to active status.  The consent order is but the latest in a series of disciplinary actions  
against Harnisch, who lives in Lewisburg. The board actions date back to 1994, when he was cited with unprofessional conduct and gross malpractice and 
his  license was suspended for a year. In an affidavit filed in the seizure case, a federal investigator disclosed  that Zachary Rose, the man who entered a guilty plea to federal drug charges in  Florida, told federal agents that Harnisch was operating pain clinics for  him.  "It is evident Harnisch was assisting Rose in the operation of pain clinics and Harnisch knew the clinic was nothing more than a pill mill," the affidavit  by IRS Special Agent William D. DeSantis states. 
Patient died Rose entered a guilty plea to drug conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court  in Jacksonville in May of last year. Under a plea deal, he avoided 
charges that  could have resulted in a lifetime jail sentence, because one of the patients at  a Rose pain clinic died of a drug overdose. In his affidavit, DeSantis wrote that Harnisch?s patients came from Kentucky,  Ohio, Virginia and Florida. They paid $300 to $350. He said that records showed  Harnisch prescribed  "excessive amounts" of Oxycodone and hydrocodone. In a  three-month period he prescribed 297,439 oxydodone pills in 2,228 prescriptions  and 33,193 hydrocodone pills in 225 prescriptions. DeSantis wrote that bank deposits made by Harnisch, often just under $10,000,  were structured in such a way as to avoid triggering federal reporting  requirements.  According to DeSantis, Harnisch moved his operations from Nashville to a  location on Ward Street in Murfreesboro when he became concerned about police scrutiny of the Linbar Drive office. Partners disband At one point, the affidavit states, Harnisch split off from Rose but  
continued operations on his own. Harnisch modeled his practice along the same lines as the clinics operated by Rose, DeSantis wrote, adding that a physician identified only by the  initials JG worked under Harnisch for 21/2 days and concluded the amount of  drugs the patients were getting was so excessive "that no one could take those  amounts and survive, let alone function."  Later, after rejoining Rose, Harnisch himself went to unnamed federal  authorities claiming he was concerned about possible pill mill activity at Rose clinics where he worked and that Rose had pressured him to write more  prescriptions. 
But, DeSantis concluded, that based on his training and experience, "I believe Harnisch earns most of his income from his involvement in the illegal  
distribution of controlled substances."

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 February 20, 2013 

Deaths Trigger DEA Probe of Pain Specialist

Among clinicians seeking ways to safely treat chronic pain, Lynn Webster, MD, serves as a beacon -- a leading expert in the use of narcotic painkillers, who created an assessment tool to identify patients who are most likely to abuse opioids.

What they don't know is that Webster -- president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine -- is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which raided his Utah clinic in 2010. In an interview, Webster acknowledged that as many as 20 former patients of his clinic have died of opioid overdoses.

"That (overdoses) has always been something that's concerned me and has driven me to push for safer prescribing," he said.

Those who know Webster's reputation say the situation illustrates the often paradoxical relationship between pain specialists and the opioids they use to treat pain

"It is hard to know what you are doing is safe ... even if you are an expert," said Michael Von Korff, ScD, a Seattle researcher who has studied the risks of opioids and is a member of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. "It's disturbing."

Studies have not shown the drugs are safe and effective for long-term pain, yet their use has often been promoted by leading professional organizations, many of which received funding from companies marketing those drugs.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine received nearly $1.5 million in 2011 from pharmaceutical companies, an investigation last year by the Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today found.

That reporting and other stories helped email= This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. &;mu_id=5508450&utm_source=buffer&buffer_share=9120f" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(0, 63, 133); outline-style: none;">prompt an investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance into financial relationships between opioid companies and several nonprofit organizations that had advocated for use of the drugs, including the academy.

The committee also sought records of payments from opioid companies to four doctors -- including Webster -- who are board members of the group.

Federal court records filed as part of an administrative inspection warrant last August indicate that Webster, who operated the Lifetree pain clinic in Salt Lake City, was under investigation by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies -- a fact Webster himself confirmed.

The investigation was started amid a growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths in America fueled by dramatic increases in opioid prescriptions over more than a decade.

A report Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated that overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased to 16,651 in 2010, more than any other drug. That's four times the opioid-related deaths recorded in 1999, when there were about 4,000 such deaths.

For pain doctors, multiple overdose deaths and a DEA investigation are rare and potentially serious issues.

Martin Grabois, MD, the current president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, labeled the situation Webster is facing as concerning, but asked: "What's the proof?"

"When you order medications like these you are prone to get potentially investigated," said Grabois, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "That does not mean you're doing something wrong. He's always been a stand-up guy, very interested in safety."

Gilbert Fanciullo, MD, an academy board member, said Webster is like a lot of pain specialists who get the most difficult patients, including those who may lie about pain in order to obtain a prescription.

"I'm surprised he's had 20 deaths out of his clinic, if that is indeed the case," said Fanciullo, a pain specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Phil Saigh, spokesperson for the AAPM, released this official statement:

"Physicians in the AAPM treat patients who have suffered horrific injuries or are terminally ill and in great pain. A small percentage of those terribly suffering patients die – not as a result of appropriate medical treatment, but in spite of it. As a society, we must care for the millions of people who suffer from pain, while preventing those same patients from ending their lives by overusing their medications. Dr. Webster is one of the most highly respected physicians in the field and has worked tirelessly to prevent the overprescribing and misuse of opioids as part of a pain treatment regimen."

Webster's opioid risk tool is used by thousands of doctors. He regularly lectures on preventing opioid abuse. He has also written about ways by which physicians who prescribe opioids can legally protect their practices from DEA and other regulatory investigations.

And he started a nonprofit to launch the "Zero Unintentional Deaths" campaign, designed to educate doctors and patients and help avoid overdose deaths.

Last year, Webster received the academy's Presidential Excellence Award for Education for major contributions in educating others about pain medicine.

In an interview, Webster said he does not know precisely how many former clinic patients died of an opioid overdose. At most it could be 20, he said. Many of those probably were suicides, he added.

"I don't think any of the deaths were for scripts I wrote," he said. "They were from staff."

In some states, including Utah, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can write prescriptions if they are supervised by a doctor.

Webster said he does not know the status of the DEA investigation. He said he believes the DEA was looking at overdose deaths and the appropriateness of opioid prescribing for patients of the clinic.

No charges have been issued.

Sue Thomas, a spokeswoman for the DEA in Utah said that because the investigation still is active, she could not comment. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City also would not comment.

In response to the DEA investigation and potential malpractice lawsuits, Webster's attorney asked another Salt Lake City pain specialist, Perry Fine, MD, to review a number of overdose cases from the clinic, Fine said. Fine, also is the immediate past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and has known Webster for years.

In most of the overdoses, the cases were handled appropriately, said Fine, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Utah. In others where something "went awry," Webster was not aware of what was going on, though his name may have appeared on patient records, Fine said.

The prescribing in those cases may have been handled by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, Fine said.

"I did see (questionable) behaviors by individuals in the clinic who had prescribing privileges and were seeing patients," he said. "There was a certain amount of autonomy that was given to the practitioners."

Whatever the reason, Fine said, having as many as 20 deaths from one pain clinic is a troubling number. In his 30 years as a pain specialist, Fine said, he knows of only one of his patients who died of an opioid overdose.

Webster, who started the Lifetree pain clinic in the 1990s and sold it in 2010, now focuses on doing medical research. He said when he was operating the pain clinic it may have had about 2,000 active patients at any given time.

Webster said many of the people treated at his clinic were among the most high-risk pain patients in the state who often also had mental health issues, past substance abuse problems along with severe chronic pain.

Often times they may have died after taking opioids, but may also have had other drugs such as sedatives that contributed to their overdose, he said.

"We had people die (from) our clinic," he said. "Probably one or two a year for a number of years. Just because you have an opioid on board and just because the medical examiner says it's an overdose due to an opioid doesn't mean it is.

"But it is true, we had deaths," he said. "We had people die from old age, we had people with cancer who died who were taking opioids, and we also had some who overdosed, who should not have died in my estimation."

All of them took a lot more than was prescribed, he said.

Webster described opioids as powerful, dangerous medications, but until a safer alternative is found it won't be possible to prevent all overdose deaths, he said. For some patients, the drugs are needed, he said.

And the alternative -- not using the drugs or dramatically cutting doses -- can have deadly consequences as well, he said.

He recalled a patient who was on a very high dose of opioids for whom he decided to cut back the dose in 2008. The man tried the lower dose for awhile, but said it was not adequately controlling his pain, but Webster said he did not think he should restore him to the high dose.

The man then went home and killed himself with a gun, one of several of his patients who have done so, he said.

"If I don't treat them, will they commit suicide?" he said. "If I do treat them, will they be harmed? It's damned difficult. I don't know any field in medicine that is more challenging. We have to find better drugs."

Steven Pulley, MD, a pain physician, had just started working at Webster's clinic six months earlier when seven to nine DEA agents showed up in the fall of 2010.

"They came in, and I was shocked," Pulley said. "You had guys in Kevlar vests with badges and guns strapped to them. They were all over. They were taking pictures of offices. They were copying hard drives and looking through records."

Pulley bought the clinic and a few months later began operating it as Omega Interventional Pain.

One of the first things he did was review the opioid regimens of patients. Some of them had to have the drug levels reduced, he said.

He also put up a poster in the office that warned of the dangers of opioids, including that the drugs can actually make pain worse.

Over the last 2 years, more than half of the patients have left the clinic, he said.

This story was reported as a joint project of the Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today.


 
 
 

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February 16, 2013  Norfolk, VA

By Elizabeth Simpson  The Virginian-Pilot

A doctor who most recently practiced in Norfolk has had his license suspended by the Virginia Board of Medicine for prescribing high-powered prescription drugs without proper monitoring.

It was not the first action taken against Dr. Flordelino Lagundino. His license also was suspended in 1994 and then revoked in 1995 after being convicted in Spotsylvania County of five counts of illegally distributing prescription drugs, four counts of distributing injectable drugs and one count of Medicaid fraud, according to Board of Medicine records.

He was sentenced in 1995 to 45 years in prison, with all but four suspended.

Lagundino was able to get his license back in late 1999 on a probationary basis. He petitioned the board to practice at a free clinic in Prince William County. The board granted that request but required strict supervision, restrictions on prescribing drugs and completion of medical education classes on prescribing drugs.

In 2003, he regained full privileges to practice medicine and prescribe narcotic drugs.

But the board suspended his license again on Feb. 7, after he had established a practice in Norfolk. He has a formal administrative hearing about the suspension scheduled for Feb. 23 at the Board of Medicine office in Henrico County.

The board documented improper prescriptions of amphetamines, such as Adderall, and narcotic drugs, such as Oxycodone and Xanax, to seven of his patients in 2011 and 2012 with the following improper procedures:

• Without proper diagnostic tests.

• To patients who were showing drug-seeking behavior.

• Without establishing a doctor-patient relationship.

• Without complete patient medical history.

• Without trying nonnarcotic treatments for pain.

• Without requesting medical records from other health care providers, such as previous doctors and emergency departments.

• Without proper monitoring, such as urine tests.

He also repeatedly refilled prescriptions after patients said they had lost medications or said they were going on vacation and needed early refills. In one situation, he failed to determine why a patient was having seizures and did not refer the patient to another doctor, according to the Board of Medicine records.

Documents show he also made false statements to a Department of Health Professions investigator in July and November, when he said he had never been charged or convicted of a crime.

Many of the patients described in the record were being treated for chronic pain.

A message left on the voicemail at his office on Military Highway was not returned, and a letter faxed to his office did not draw a response. The message on his office phone said a doctor no longer practiced there and included instructions for former patients to retrieve their medical records.

Records show he was first issued a medical license in Virginia in 1976. The most recent Board of Medicine documents were sent to him at an address in Tappahannock.

One of his former patients, Judith Sweeney, said she was very upset at the Board of Medicine suspension. She said that Lagundino monitored her condition closely and regularly asked for urine tests.

Sweeney said she has chronic pain from injuries related to previous employment and a fall and from a condition called fibromyalgia. She said she previously had been treated by another Norfolk doctor, Disamodha Amarasinghe, who had his license suspended in May 2011 for prescription drug monitoring problems.

She questioned where people in chronic pain are supposed to get treatment: "Just like a person with asthma needs an inhaler, and a diabetic needs insulin, people in severe pain need pain relief. The pain is unbearable."

Since 2006, doctors and pharmacists in Virginia have been able to access a statewide database through the Prescription Monitoring Program, which is maintained by the Virginia Department of Health Professions. The database contains records of every prescription dispensed by Virginia pharmacies of high-powered drugs that could put people at risk of addiction, such as oxycodone, methadone and Xanax.

Professionals can access the database to review prescription patterns and watch for drug abuse among patients. That's routinely done by pharmacists and doctors, who can report suspected abuses to others involved.

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February 15, 2013 Orange County California

  Investigation focuses on doctor in drug deaths A string of 16 fatal overdoses has been tied to powerful narcotics  prescribed by a prominent Orange County physician, Dr. Van Vu.     *   The Medical Board of California has launched an investigation into a string of 16 fatal overdoses tied to powerful narcotics prescribed by a prominent Orange County physician.
Dr. Van Vu, a pain  management specialist in Huntington Beach, was featured  in a Los Angeles Times articl_ in November that detailed the 16 deaths. A board investigator recently began obtaining signed releases from relatives  of the deceased patients, authorizing the board to review their medical  records. "The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind," said Sally Finnila  Sloane, whose brother Karl, 43, fatally overdosed on a cocktail of drugs in  2007, including two prescribed by Vu. "I was glad to see that somebody in charge  was looking into this so it doesn't happen to anyone else."   Charles Thurber, whose 22-year-old daughter Jennifer died of an overdose the  same year, said he received a letter seeking permission to access her medical  files. She died after taking multiple drugs, including methadone  and morphine  prescribed by Vu, coroner's records show. Thurber said he signed the form and sent it back to the medical board. "It's definitely warranted," he said of the investigation. Vu's attorney, Richard Wynn, said the doctor would cooperate fully with the investigation. He said Vu hopes that the medical board will form a committee to  develop better protocols for treating chronic pain, and that he will be invited  to participate. "Dr. Vu is more than happy to assist in any way he can to make the system  better," Wynn said. "We want not only to comply but to come up with a  solution." Fatal overdoses involving prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs  have risen sharply in the last decade, fueling a doubling of drug fatalities in  the United States. Authorities have focused on how addicts and dealers obtain such medications illegally, such as by robbing pharmacies or raiding family medicine  cabinets. A series of Times articles published last year showed that many patients  overdose on medications obtained lawfully with a doctor's prescription. By  studying coroners' records across Southern California, The Times identified  3,733 fatal overdoses from 2006 through 2011 and determined that nearly half stemmed from drugs prescribed for the deceased by a physician. A small cluster of doctors  71 out of tens of thousands practicing in  Southern California  were associated with a disproportionate number of deaths. Each of those doctors lost three or more patients to overdoses. In each case,  records show that medications prescribed by the physicians caused or contributed  to the deaths. Vu was linked to more deaths than any other doctor, the Times  analysis found, Most of those doctors, including Vu, had clean records with the medical  board, and there is no evidence that board officials knew about the deaths. In interviews last year, Vu described himself as a conscientious, caring  physician. He said patient confidentiality laws prevented him from discussing individual cases. But he said his practice includes many "very, very difficult  patients" whose chronic pain often is complicated by substance  abuse and depression, anxiety or other mental illness. "I am doing the best I can in this very difficult field," he said. "I  consider myself to be one of the best. But we have limits." One of those limitations, he said, is his inability to control what patients  do once they leave his office. Vu said he was unaware of many of his patients' deaths and found the cases  identified by The Times "eye-opening."

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February 14, 2013 Wexford County, Michigan    In the latest move to curtail medical marijuana activities, the Michigan State Police on Tuesday arrested a prominent physician in central Michigan known for specializing in recommending medical marijuana. Dr. Edward Harwell was today charged with five criminal counts- two counts of making recommendations outside of the bona fide doctor-patient relationship and three counts of falsifying a medical record.

Dr. Edward Harwell, owner of the Triple M Clinics was taken into custody by MSP officers on Tuesday, February 12 and was held overnight without bond at the Wexford County Jail. Charges were announced at his arraignment. Harwell’s bond was set at $20,000.

Revealed in Court today were the details of the charges. On February 5, 2013, Harwell certified two undercover officers for use of medical marijuana without viewing any patient records nor performing a physical examination, according to the charges. Harwell certified another undercover on Tuesday, February 12 and was promptly arrested. Harwell is also accused of listing false medical conditions on the patient’s medical records. The prosecution is being handled by the Wexford County Prosecutor’s office.

Judge Parsons read the following statements while announcing the charges: “…the defendant did unlawfully conspire combine confederate or agree together with a Rosalind K Swafford to verify severe and chronic pain as a specific diagnosis on a physician’s certification… which constituted the debilitating medical condition and did so without establishing a bona fide physician patient relationship and without establishing a factual basis to form the professional opinion that the person was likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of marijuana.”

During the bond discussion, Judge Parsons also said, “These are very severe crimes; the abuse of medical use of medicine and prescription of medicines is a danger to the public and the court is therefore going to set a bond higher than usual.” Harwell, through his attorney, entered a Not Guilty plea to all charges.

Harwell’s troubles began in June of 2010, when an article revealed he charged one price to certify patients with medical records and one price for those without them. A sting-style investigation by a local television news team documented the no-records certifications and then took it to their local legislator in November of 2010.  That legislator was Republican Tonya Schuitmaker, who became a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011 and is now the Senate’s President Pro Tempore. She is a former State Chairperson for ALEC, a think tank credited for generating some of the nation’s most conservative public policy.

On August 30, 2012, the Attorney General filed a complaint against Dr. Harwell, alleging Harwell failed to maintain records, require proper documentation and “promotion for personal gain of an unnecessary drug” and “lack of good moral character”. The Complaint cites as evidence a former business manager, referred to as S.H., who retained legal counsel against Harwell; the news story;

LARA subpoenaed the records of several patients that had received their certification from Dr. Harwell at a conference in Whitehall, Michigan, and at the Trpile M Clinics.; Harwell was unable to produce the records. He was accused of six counts: negligence,  incompetence, lack of good moral character, promotion of a drug for personal gain, failure to maintain records and failure to respond to a subpoena. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website lists Harwell as having an open formal complaint filed against him. The complaint sought sanctions against Harwell’s license to practice, not criminal charges.

Dr. Harwell is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit and is board certified in nuclear medicine and radiology, according to an online physician’s listing service. Another report lists him as a brain surgeon and a general practitioner. Wexford County is in the northern half of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, near the ski resort and vacation haven of Traverse City. His practice is based out of Cadillac. The LARA complaint states Harwell also owned the Liberty Clinic in Ann Arbor, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Court proceedings today were recorded by Eric VanDussen, a journalist and videographer known to fight for the right to video medical marijuana court cases.  VanDussen has in the past won approval from the Supreme Court of Michigan to record a very unwilling Court of Appeals.

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Febrary 13, 2013 Laconia, NH

Complaint  from cops leads to Rx suspension for Laconia doctor Details Published Date  Written by Gail Ober LACONIA  A doctor at the Laconia Clinic has been  reprimanded by the N.H. Board of Medicine for professional misconduct for  prescribing opiates in a manner inconsistent with state law and with the medical  board's internal policies. In a settlement agreement between the board and  Dr. Michael Dipre's, his license to prescribe controlled drugs as defined in the  state's Controlled Drug Act has been suspended for three years and he is ordered  to participate at his own expense in a "global assessment of his ability and  skills as a physician" conducted at a facility in either Aurora, Colorado or  Lawrence, Kansas within the next four months. Dipre is also ordered to  present his currently employer LRGHealthcare with a copy of this settlement  within 10 days of the reprimand, which was dated February 8 and released  yesterday by the Board of Medicine. This is the second time Dipre has been  reprimanded by the N.H. Board of Medicine. In 2008 he was reprimanded and his  license to dispense controlled drugs was suspended for one year. He paid an  administrative fine of $3,000 and was ordered to participate in a program  earning 20 continuing medical education credits in the areas of documenting  medical records and documenting prescribing practices. According to the  narrative of the second reprimand, on or about August 11, 2011 the Board of  Medicine learned from a local law enforcement agency that an individual with the  initials of J.S. was selling prescription medications and that she had been  getting multiple prescriptions from Dipre. While the board was investigating  this complaint, they received a second complaint about Dipre regarding an  individual with the initials of P.K. The board found that Dipre began seeing  J.S. In July of 2011 and was treating her for hypothyroidism, and chronic neck  and back pain. Through no fault of his own, Dipre didn't have her previous  medical records. Dipre prescribed Percoset but failed to document it and  despite J.S.'s mild intolerance of acetaminophen. He prescribed it again for her  in October and said he prescribed Percoset because it is more difficult to  convert the drug into injectable form. On October 17, Dipre saw J.S. for a  fall with back pain. His records show he prescribed a prednisone taper and  oxycodone but he only recorded the oxycodone. Between November 3 and December  16, Dipre prescribed two additional prescriptions of oxycodone that were not  recorded. During this time, Dipre was converting to the use of electronic  medical records. When Dipre heard of J.S.'s abuse of pain medication, he  stopped prescribing to her. Dipre began treating P.K., according to the  settlement agreement, in May of 2011. When he first saw her, she had been out of  pain medication for two days and seems to be in withdrawal. She reported a  history of lower back pain with a herniated disk that appeared to require repeat  surgery. Dipre prescribed and documented a prescription of 130 30-milligram  pills of oxycodone, 180 10-milligram pills of methadone, and 60 2- milligram  pills of Xanax. He noted that P.K. should schedule another appointment with  him within 30 days but, despite the fact that P.K. didn't return, Dipre  continued to prescribe narcotics to her for the next three months. After three  months, he stopped. In addition, an individual with the initials T.E. had  been one of Dipre's patients in 2004. She returned to him in 2008 because her  own physician had discontinued prescribing narcotics and instead sent her to a  pain clinic. Despite her history, the document shows Dipre didn't require  T.E. to enter a pain clinic. When a pharmacist told Dipre of T.E.'s attempt to  fill a pain medication prescription he cut her off from pain medications. A  media representative from LRGHealthcare declined comment on Dipre's situation.

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Feb 12, 2013 Alexandria Virginia

Alexandria Doctor Pleads Guilty to Distributing Drugs  Larren Wade practiced medicine in an office on Dawes Avenue in  Alexandria's West End.      By_Rachel  Leonard_http://westendalexandria.patch.com    

An  Alexandria doctor accused of obtaining cash payments for writing prescriptions  for narcotics pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to conspiracy to  distribute and dispense oxycodone. Dr. Larren Wade, 55, pleaded guilty to the sole charge before U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria. Hilton scheduled a sentencing hearing  for May 17. According to court records, Wade maintained a medical practice at 5194 Dawes  Ave. A two-year investigation by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration  into Wade?s activities began in 2010, when local law enforcement notified the  FBI of a pill distribution network operating in the Lorton area. Significant  portions of the pills were obtained through prescriptions written by Wade,  according to the FBI. Between early June and early July 2010, two undercover DEA officers visited Wade about four times and obtained prescriptions for approximately 2,300  oxycodone and Oxycontin tablets, which can be abused to obtain a heroin-like high. Wade prescribed the medications without conducting a physical evaluation,  reviewing patient files or establishing a treatment plan, according to court  documents.  According to the FBI, patients formed long lines outside Wade?s office and  abused prescription drugs in the office parking lot. Between January and July 2010, on average per month, Wade wrote approximately  1,000 prescriptions for controlled substances that were filled at pharmacies in  Virginia, including 900,000 tablets of oxycodone, hydromorphone and methadone.  Patients and undercover officers reported paying cash for their visits, and on  one day in July 2010, patient sign-in counts obtained by investigators showed  that more than 100 patients signed in that day and paid Wade nearly $10,000 in  cash, according to court documents. Starting in January 2010, the number of prescriptions Wade wrote per month  was about 10 times more than his monthly average the preceding two years,  prosecutors allege. Since May 2010, law enforcement officers have interviewed at least 40 of  Wade?s former patients and charged at least 12 of them in connected with the  distribution of prescription drugs.

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February 12, 2013

Doctor who served on Madison council charged with selling prescriptions for painkillers
A now-suspended Madison physician who is accused of  selling prescriptions for the addictive painkiller OxyContin has been offered a  five-year state prison plea deal to resolve the drug-dealing charges. Dr. Vincent A. Esposito, a  55-year-old internist, was in Superior Court, Morristown, Tuesday, with  defense lawyer Robert Dunn for a status conference on the criminal charges filed  against him one year ago by the state Attorney General?s Office. It was also revealed in court for  the first time Tuesday that a pharmacist employed by the Bottle Hill Pharmacy in  Madison has been charged with a narcotics offense in connection with the  Esposito investigation. While court records were not immediately available on  the case of pharmacist Srinivasa Raju, 41, of Clifton, state Deputy  Attorney General Mark Eliades referred in court to charges against Raju and said  the defendant appears to be out of the country at this time. Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for the state Division of  Consumer Affairs, said that Raju?s license to dispense prescription drugs is  currently active and in good standing. Esposito?s license to practice medicine,  however, was suspended in March 2012, Lamm said. A computer court record states that Raju was charged  this past November with a ?narcotics? offense and posted $75,000 bail. Dunn said that Esposito has been offered a five-year  prison sentence to resolve the charge but Eliades said the case also is  scheduled to be presented to a state grand jury by the end of this month for  possible indictment. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and state  detectives began investigating Esposito, a former Madison councilman, in March  2011 for alleged distribution of oxycodone and OxyContin to individuals who were  not his patients and never examined by him. He allegedly charged about $90 to write an oxycodone  prescription for 120 pills of 30 milligrams, according to the state.
Staff Writer Peggy Wright: 973-267-1142; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "

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February 12, 2013 Savannah, GA

Savannah Doctor Indicted On Drug Charges
By WSAV StaffSAVANNAH, GA -  A Savannah doctor who is a former medical director at Memorial Health has  been indicted on charges of trading sex for prescriptions of additive  drugs. 57 year old William Ellien faces felony drug charges for the unlawful  distribution of prescription drugs, including percocet and hydrocodone. The  indictment claims that Ellien exchanged prescriptions for very addictive  prescription drugs with various women from 2009 through 2012.
Up until  September, Dr. Ellien was the medical director of Behavior Health Services at  Memorial Health. But a Memorial spokesman told us that Ellien was a private  physician and that he had not been associated with Memorial since  September.
Savannah attorney Mark Tate however thinks Memorial should be  held accountable. He has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two of the women allegedly  involved with Ellien. He says in one case, Ellien basically recruited a young  woman who worked at a strip club, offering to counsel her about anxiety. But  instead Tate says, Ellien ended up engaging in sex for drugs.
While Tate  has filed suit on behalf of two women, he claims there are at least four more  involved, two from Savannah and two others from Mississippi where Ellien  formerly lived. Tate alleges the Mississippi women were brought to Savannah over  the course of several years where drugs and prescriptions were exchanged for  sex. Tate says in one case one woman involved was getting prescriptions for up  to 500 Xanax pills per month.
He says Ellien had women visit him at the  Clark Center on the Memorial Health campus, which Tate says is "in patient"  only. Tate's suit alleges that Ellien use Memorial stationery and other items  and that his contact information was at Memorial. "When pharmacists had  questions about all these prescriptions, they called Ellien at Memorial," Tate  said.
"Memorial Medical Center empowered this doctor and gave him the  ability to write these prescriptions and the authority to claim he could cure  problems including addiction and anxiety. And instead of doing that, he went out  like a predator and found these girls, brought them in and wrote them  prescriptions that made them worse," Tate said. "Memorial Medical Center we have  alleged - had the duty and had the ability to supervise him and make sure he did  not abuse his power the way that he did."
Tate says in the case of two  women, Ellien also leased cars. He says in the case of several women, Ellien  even used Memorial stationery to write the work excuses and to excuse absences  from school for their children.
A Memorial spokesman said he could not  discuss legal matters.

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February 11, 2013 Rockland, NY

A Rockland County physician was indicted today for allegedly selling millions of dollars worth of prescription narcotics out of his offices, Attorney General Eric Scheiderman announced, Gannett’s Haley Viccaro reports.

Dr. David Brizer, a Rockland County and Manhattan-based physician, was hit today with a 55-count indictment against him on charges of selling prescription oxycodone and other pain medications to drug dealers, Schneiderman said.

“Instead of saving lives, Dr. Brizer used his position to supply drug dealers and feed a prescription-drug epidemic that is devastating families across our state,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Brizer, 60, allegedly charged customers $300 for prescriptions and illegally sold several millions of dollars worth of pills, Schneiderman said. He first sold prescriptions out of his Nyack office on 48 Burd Street and more recently sold them out of his Manhattan office on 244 West 54th Street, he said.

Brizer allegedly sold the fraudulent prescriptions to drug dealer Franklin Walker and others over a two-year period until July 2012, Schneiderman said. Brizer allegedly gave Walker about 240 oxycodone pills at a time. Walker, 52, was arrested in December on drug possession and grand larceny charges and faces up to nine years in prison.

The physician was also charged with possessing controlled substances, which he obtained by writing prescriptions under people’s names who had no knowledge of his actions. He also wrote fraudulent prescriptions for fake patients.

The indictment against Brizer includes charges for underreporting his income by about $500,000 on his state tax returns in 2010 and 2011.

Brizer, 60, was arraigned in Rockland County Court today on two counts of criminal tax fraud, 34 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, 15 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and 2 counts of offering a false instrument for filing. He also faces scheme to defraud and conspiracy charges.

In August 2012, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, with the help of the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Department of Taxation and Finance, executed search warrants in Brizer’s Manhattan office and residence, Schneiderman said.

“The message is clear – whether you are a doctor or a criminal on the street, my office will prosecute those profiting off the cycle of abuse,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “This office will use every tool at our disposal to bring criminal charges against those who line their own pockets by fueling dangerous addictions and illegally trafficking in prescription narcotics.”

A secretary at Brizer’s last-known office in Nyack said he no longer works there. Attempts to immediately reach him were unsuccessful

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February 8, 2013  Rayville doctor arrested on drug charges   Newstar.com
A joint investigation by Louisiana State Police and  Richland Parish deputies resulted in the arrest of a Rayville doctor Wednesday  on drug charges. Authorities arrested 60-year-old Dr. Dan LaFleur of  Delhi on five counts of possession of Schedule III controlled dangerous  substances, two counts of possession of schedule IV controlled dangerous  substances and resisting a police officer. Trooper Albert Paxton said the arrest was made while  the investigators were executing a search warrant in a prescription fraud  investigation. The search was being conducted at LaFleur's residence when the  investigators discovered the schedule III and schedule IV narcotics. LaFleur  attempted to conceal some of the narcotics from the investigators then actively  resisted their attempts to recover the drugs. LeFleur was booked into the Richland Parish Detention  Center. If convicted on all charges LaFleur faces up to a $37,000 fine and up to  37 years in prison. The investigation is ongoing.

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Febuary 7, 2013 Doctor arrested in pill-mill probe pleads no contest to  racketeering
 Orlando Sentinel:   A Winter Park doctor arrested in a pill-mill probe pleaded no contest to a  racketeering charge this week, avoiding a potential 25-year prison term, Orange  County Circuit Court records show. Michael Moyer was arrested in June 2010 in one of Central Florida's first  investigations into doctors suspected of needlessly prescribing powerful,  addictive drugs.

After receiving a string of tips about Moyer's prescribing practices ?  including from an area pharmacist ? the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation  sent an informant to his Aloma Avenue office. Authorities said that during each visit, Moyer prescribed the informant  painkillers and muscle relaxers without a valid medical reason. Moyer's defense has fought the accusations, and most recently argued the  charges of hydrocodone trafficking, delivery of a controlled substance and  trafficking in oxycodone should be dismissed. Defense attorney Michael LaFay argued Moyer should not have faced the state's  broad prescription-drug-trafficking law ? a first-degree felony that comes with  a potential 25-year prison term ? because Florida has a law written specifically  for practitioners accused of improper practices. A judge denied LaFay's motion last month. On Monday, the state modified the charges in the case, charging Moyer with  racketeering. He pleaded no contest to the charge the same day. Moyer will avoid prison time as part of the agreement and faces 15 years  probation. He will be sentenced Feb. 27. Moyer is the second doctor to plead no contest in recent weeks to a  racketeering charge. Orlando physician Roman Mosai, also arrested in 2010, was accused of  prescribing painkillers to undercover agents who did not need them. Mosai's  attorneys have denied he ran a pill-mill. He pleaded no contest to a racketeering charge last month, was fined $10,000  and sentenced to 20 years probation.

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February 7, 2013  Kanawha County law firm to go after  pill mills
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the  Kanawha County Commission gave a local law firm the go-ahead Thursday to sue  local doctors, pharmacists and drug suppliers in an attempt to stem the county's  prescription drug problem.  Local attorney Jim Cagle and the DiTrapano law firm want to file suit in  Kanawha County Circuit Court and circuit courts in at least two other counties  against doctors who write illicit prescriptions, pharmacies that fill them and  the pharmaceutical companies that supply the pills, Cagle told county commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores. By _Rusty Marks_      The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the Kanawha County Commission gave a local  law firm the go-ahead Thursday to sue local doctors, pharmacists and drug  suppliers in an attempt to stem the county's prescription drug problem.  Local attorney Jim Cagle and the DiTrapano law firm want to file suit in  Kanawha County Circuit Court and circuit courts in at least two other counties  against doctors who write illicit prescriptions, pharmacies that fill them and  the pharmaceutical companies that supply the pills, Cagle told county commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores. State and federal officials are also pursuing legal channels to try to stop "pill mills," but Cagle believes counties also have an argument that the state's  prescription drug problem is directly linked to local crime, for which county  taxpayers have to pick up the tab. Kanawha County pays about $5 million a year  just to house inmates at the South Central Regional Jail. West Virginia leads the nation in prescription drug overdoses, Cagle said.  He said he was involved in one case involving a pharmacy in Kermit in Mingo County that was ranked 23rd in the nation for Oxycodone prescriptions. He said  the pharmacy did $10 million in business a year, and out-of-state drug suppliers  made $240,000 to $400,000 a month from the scheme. Cagle said prescription drug abuse leads to crime, crime leads to arrests,  and arrests lead to jail. He and other lawyers intend to argue that the county  and taxpayers are due compensation for criminals who are hooked on drugs. "Seventy-five to 85 percent of the people I prosecute are addicted to drugs in one way or another," agreed county prosecutor Mark Plants. Cagle asked Carper, Hardy and Shores to give the law firm permission to sue doctors, pharmacists and pill suppliers on behalf of the county. He thinks the  list of defendants will probably include at least two international pill  manufacturers. Cagle said the approach has not been tried before, and could set a national precedent. No one knows how much the county could win, but one pill supplier was  recently fined $300 million. County officials won't have to pay for the legal representation, but the law  firm will collect a third of any court settlement or fine. The attorneys won't  make anything if they lose, but county taxpayers won't be out anything,  either. "Go get 'em," Carper said. 

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Feb 4,  2013   WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- An embattled pain clinic owner says he is closing his clinic next week.

Dr. Alen Salerian is determined to close its doors although he awaits judgement from two city administrative bodies on his appeal of a city mandate that stopped him from prescribing Class Two Narcotics pain killers.

"I feel that I am surrendering now, at least for the time being, and shutting down my practice because I have no choice," Dr. Salerian said.  "I am bankrupt and I am broke, and the environment in which I am trying to practice is very hostile and is very negative."

He added, "trust is essential for a doctor to practice and there are a lot of doubts about who I am and what I am. Until the city decides or other authorities declare me innocent, I feel as though I have no choice but to surrender."

Salerian, a former high-ranking psychiatrist at the FBI, has published widely his work studying the effect of pain on the brian. He believes pain causes actual, physical, brain damage, and prescribes pain killers more frequently than is the medical norm.

"It is not my theory. It is the theory established by neuroscience that people with pain and psychiatric disorders actually suffer brain damage, and when there is brain damage, it is destructive," Salerian said in his Wisconsin Avenue office. "There is premature aging and death. It is as dangerous as having high blood pressure and cholesterol and so pain patients and psychiatric patients must receive adequate and aggressive treatment in my view."

The DC Health Department believes he provided pain medication too frequently and moved to suspend his prescription rights in April. His appeal is pending.

"I do not think it is me. I think this is all about science, and pain patients and psychiatric patients. In our community we discriminate against people with pain and psychiatric problems. I am a defender of the weak. I am a defender of people with pain and psychiatric disorders. I do not think I am a target. My poor patients are," Salerian said.

He believes there is an irrational fear of drugs to fight pain.

"It is very unfortunate. People with mental disabilities are in pain. I say let doctors decide what healing is all about.

"I want to hear the evidence. I want to hear it from scholars and others based upon neuroscientific evidence that what I'm doing is wrong," he said.

His patients have had difficulty getting other doctors to provide the medication they have come to rely upon. Six patients have died since Salerian's prescription rights were suspended, three of those patients, he says, from suicide.

"There is a shortage of pain doctors everywhere, especially in the South, in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, even in Washington, DC. There is a true shortage of pain doctors."

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Feb 4, 2013  Beaufort doctor pleads guilty to distributing prescription  painkillers

By ERIN MOODY The Island Packet

A Beaufort, SC  doctor could face 11 years in prison after  admitting he wrote painkiller prescriptions for people who did not need them.  David Vincent Rhodes, whose has been on indefinite leave from his practice at  Lowcountry Medical Group since this past May, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to  possess and distribute Oxycontin, Percocet and roxycontin at a federal hearing  Monday in Charleston. Prosecutors said Rhodes has agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation  that resulted in the federal grand-jury indictment this past August of 18  others, all from the Beaufort County area, in a roundup by the Beaufort County  Sheriff's Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and U.S. marshals. 
All 18 conspired to acquire and sell Oxycodone and cocaine, according to the  two-page indictment unsealed last summer. Rhodes was not named in that  indictment, but last year authorities said Rhodes was at the center of an 
investigation shortly after they searched his office in the Shell Point area in  May. 
In federal court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Phillips asked that Rhodes receive a sentence of nine to 11 years. He also could be fined  $150,000. Rhodes will not likely be sentenced until the cases against those indicted 
this past summer are settled, which will take about three months, Phillips said.  One of the 18 indicted has pleaded guilty, he said. It's not clear if more indictments could follow. Phillips declined further  comment on the investigation.  The S.C. Board of Medical Examiners indefinitely suspended Rhodes medical license May 7. A letter from the board to Rhodes did not specify the reason for  the disciplinary action, state records show.
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Feb 4, 2013 Clay, NY  doctor pays $60,000 for violating prescription drug  law

The  Post-Standard

Syracuse, NY -- A Clay physician has agreed to pay $60,000 for violating laws  restricting his use of controlled substances that he'd obtained as a doctor. Dr. William Beals agreed to pay the amount and voluntarily surrendered his  Drug Enforcement Administration number, which permitted him to prescribe  controlled substances, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian. The settlement was reached in December and Beals made his final payment on  the $60,000 three weeks ago, the release said. In November, federal prosecutors sued Beals, seeking _a fine of up to $615,000  because he was unable to account for  21 bottles of prescription drugs delivered to his office.
The DEA started investigating Beals after he ordered 5,000 hydrocodone pills  and 1,100 zolpidem (the generic name for Ambien) pills between March 2010 and  January of this year, according to the release. Beals was unable to provide  investigators with purchase, dispensing or destruction records for those drugs,  the release said.

 

"He could not account for their whereabouts in any  way," the release said. A state court jury last year found Beals' negligence caused one of his  patients, longtime Henninger High School coach and teacher Joseph Mazella, to 
commit suicide three years ago. The jury _awarded $1.5 million to Mazella's family  for Beals'  overmedicating him on an antidepressant. In the federal case, DEA investigators inspected Beals' office, at 7302  Oswego Road, in February 2012. Beals told them he did not store prescription  drugs at his office, and that he only prescribed them for patients, the lawsuit  said. The investigators questioned Beals a week later, and he could not account
for  the 6,100 tablets of hydrocodone and zolpidem that had been ordered from the  manufacturer, court papers said. Beals told the investigators that he had flushed all the medications, the  suit said.
The state health department disciplined Beals in September for habitually abusing drugs  and alcohol from January 2010 to February of this year. The state said Beals abused hydrocodone, Nubain, zolpidem and alcohol.  Hydrocodone and Nubain are painkillers. Zolpidem is a sedative. Beals, 61, of Clay, admitted guilt in a signed agreement with the state. The  state also accused him of failing to maintain dispensing records for
hydrocodone  and zolpidem that he ordered and maintained in his office. The state charged Beals in February 2012 with negligence for prescribing drugs to patients for many years  without seeing them. For the two
cases, his medical license was suspended for a  total of five years.

 

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January 29, 2013  South Philadelphia doctor to be sentence for running a pill mill
David Sell, Inquirer Staff Writer

Richard Minicozzi is a physician who lives in Elkins Park and practiced from  a rowhouse in South Philadelphia, but he might be moving to federal prison as  soon as Tuesday. In March, a jury convicted Minicozzi on 18 of 19 charges related to illegal distribution of controlled substances, largely agreeing with Assistant U.S.  Attorney Mary Kay Costello, who suggested in her closing argument that Minicozzi  "wasn't treating people. He wasn't acting as a doctor. He was 
dealing  drugs." Federal Judge J. Curtis Joyner is scheduled to sentence Minicozzi for running  a "pill mill," on Morris Street. Court testimony and documents showed Minicozzi  sold hydrocodone (whose brand-name version is Vicodin) and Xanax for cash  without performing valid medical examinations, and writing inappropriate  prescriptions for oxycodone.  While this prosecution of a doctor is among the latest governmental efforts to slow the national epidemic of misuse and death by prescription drugs,  especially painkillers, another tactic is examining the suppliers to doctors 
and  pharmacies.  Drugmakers usually sell to wholesalers, who then resell products to other  distributors, drugstore chains, mail-order companies, independent  pharmacies,  hospitals and some doctors. Some drugs prone to abuse are classified as controlled substances, requiring those along the supply chain to register 
with  the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The three biggest  wholesale companies are McKesson, headquartered in San Francisco; Cardinal  Health, of Dublin, Ohio, and Amerisource Bergen, based in Valley  Forge. After a federal judge in Washington ruled early in 2012 that wholesalers had  an obligation to "self-police," Cardinal Health settled with the DEA over allegations that it did not adequately monitor prescription painkiller shipments  from its Lakeland, Fla., distribution center to certain pharmacies. 
Cardinal  lost its license to sell controlled substances from that facility for two years  and its 28 other facilities are under greater scrutiny. 
Amerisource Bergen said in an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and the DEA  for documents related to "specific customers' purchases of controlled  substances," and its program for controlling and monitoring such sales.  The three biggest wholesalers control an estimated 90 percent of the market,  but a DEA spokesman said the agency issued licenses to about 874 distributors,  including 53 in Pennsylvania and 37 in New Jersey.  Undercover agents made videotaped drug buys from Minicozzi as part of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia  Police Department, FBI and DEA. But investigators also obtained records from two  small, local distributors that shipped drugs to Minicozzi.   Wesley Pharmacal Company Inc., of Warminster, Bucks County, was paid $211,544  between January 2005 and June 2010 to supply Minicozzi with Xanax and Vicodin,  according to court records. C.O. Truxton, Inc., of Bellmawr, Camden County, got  $85,646 for supplying Xanax.  Neither of the family-run and privately held companies was accused of any  
crime in this case. Both have licenses with the DEA and their respective  states.  "He had a legitimate license with the state and he had his DEA number,"   Mary  Claire Rossi, daughter of Wesley Pharmacal's late founder, Cliff 
Crawford, said  of Minicozzi. "We dotted the I's and crossed the T's."  Minicozzi's lawyer, Jeff Miller, said that his 79-year-old client shows signs  of dementia and that the wholesalers are guilty of profiting from the unusually  high volumes Minicozzi ordered.  "They had a legal, ethical and moral responsibility to notify the appropriate  authorities in Pennsylvania or the DEA," Miller said, adding it doesn't 
excuse  Minicozzi's actions. Bunk, said Truxton owner Paul Devine. 

"We reported that man a couple times," Devine said, meaning to the DEA. He said his company stopped selling to Minicozzi in 2007. "We run a reputable company, and we can't control what people do with any of the drugs. If we 
have a  record of what we sold and who we sold it to, that is the extent of our  responsibility."   

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January 28, 2013 Muscatine, Iowa     From WQAD 8 TV

A federal grand jury has indicted a Muscatine doctor on 95 federal charges, accused of illegally dispensing prescription drugs to female patients in exchange for sexual favors. The federal affidavit filed by the government last week states that one of Dr. Gierlus’s female patients told investigators that she and the doctor had sexual contact “more than 50 times,” and told police she bluntly told the doctor she sometimes deals the pills on the street.The government alleges that Gierlus “has dispensed powerful controlled substances,” like Adderall, Vicodin, Xanax, Valium and Darvon hundreds of times in return for sexual favors from at least 30 women, including intercourse in the “examination room during medical appointments.”

Dr. David Gierlus appeared in federal court in Davenport on Monday, and plead not guilty to all charges.  He arrived at the courthouse with his wife and defense attorney, Jeff Lang.  Gierlus was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month, and charged with 95 counts of distributing six different types of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.

The long list of charges involve dispensing Oxycodone, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Adderall, Phentermine and Alprazolam, “not for a legitimate medical purpose and outside the scope of professional practice.”

The new charges date back to 2008. Court documents originally filed in the case last year alleged the family practitioner wrote hundreds of prescriptions in exchange for sexual encounters with several patients, who in some cases, say they sold the drugs on the street to make money. A trial date was set for April 16th. Dr. Gierlus has voluntarily agreed not to see patients until the case is resolved.

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January 24, 2013 Orlando, FL   

Orlando doctor fined $10,000, placed on 20 years' probation in pill  case-Roman Mosai was arrested in 2010.  

By Rene  Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel

An Orlando physician accused of prescribing pain pills to undercover agents who did not need them Thursday pleaded no contest to racketeering and was fined  $10,000 and placed on 20 years of probation. Roman Mosai, 64, one of the first doctors arrested in a prescription  drug-abuse crackdown by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, is expected to  continue his family practice at Westside Medical Clinic on West Colonial Drive,  said attorneys Robert Leventhal and William Furlow II.

According to Assistant State Attorney Robert J. Welch, Mosai saw two undercover agents six times in 2008 and 2009. Each time they gave him vague, bogus complaints about minor pain, and Mosai prescribed hydrocodone, a popular pain medication. Mosai did not give a formal diagnosis, plan of treatment, order X-rays or  refer them to an orthopedist, Welch said. His treatment was "outside the 
course  of standard medical practice," Welch said. Mosai was arrested in 2010 and charged with racketeering because prosecutors  characterized his six prescriptions to those agents as an ongoing 
criminal  enterprise. Leventhal said Mosai was a family practitioner, not a pain-management  
specialist or someone who was caught writing high numbers of oxycodone prescriptions. 
"It's clear that he didn't run a pill mill," Leventhal said. Furlow said hoped to settle the Florida Department of Health complaint against Mosai by agreeing to a period of medical probation, which would require 
Mosai to be monitored by an outside physician, having him undergo continuing  education and perhaps pay a fine.  A half dozen patients testified in court Thursday that Mosai was a caring doctor, willing to make house calls and to treat patients who had no money.  Clara Carty, 83, a patient for seven years, said, "Dr. Mosai is a blessed doctor. I never met a doctor kinder than him." While she testified, Mosai 
wiped  his eyes with a handkerchief.

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January 24, 2013  Liburn, Georgia    Law enforcement officials raided Thursday a Lilburn pain management clinic  suspected of dispensing prescription medicine illegally, according to a 
Fox  5 Atlanta report.  In addition, the report  showed that Dr. George Williams was arrested and is suspected of running the  clinic as an illegal operation under the name of Premier Medical, located at  3993 Lawrenceville Highway. The location abuts Berkmar High  School. Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, members of the Gwinnett Metro Narcotics Task Force and the Lilburn Police  Department  were part of the Jan. 24 raid.  Patch first learned of the suspected pain clinic in August, when Lilburn City  Council passed an ordinance making it tougher for so-called pill mills 
to  operate within city limits. Typically, these pill mills have been found to dispense illegal amounts of  
oxycodone or hydrocodone to dealers and drug addicts in exchange for cash  payments. 
Following the city council's action, an anonymous tipster forwarded information to Patch regarding concerns about Premier Medical. The tipster said many suspicious vehicles parked at the clinic, making the parking lot overflow  at times. The person also complained to local and county police. "Don't know what else to do," the Patch reader said. "We can't put up with places like that, and especially so near our schools."  "We do not want this in the community," the person also said.  When Patch visited the clinic last year, numerous vehicles with out-of-state  tags and an armed guard where present. One patient asked if a Patch editor knew  how to get back to Ohio.  Patch subsequently followed up with Lilburn Police officials, who said they were looking into it. Not until Thursday, were federal officials able to 
make an  arrest in connection with the suspected pill mill.  Pill mills are increasingly becoming a problem in Georgia, as Florida's tough  crackdown of the practice runs shady doctors, and business operators, across the  border.  Georgia officials aren't exactly making it a tough choice. 
According to a December Wall Street Journal report , Georgia has no law requiring pain clinics to be owned  by medical professionals, no law empowering the state's medical board to punish  crooked clinic operators and doctors and no database tracking the number of  prescriptions each clinic writes. 
That's why Lilburn's effort to pass strict requirements for pain management clinics became essential. 
"They're spreading pure poison into the community, nothing short of that,"  Police Chief Bruce Hedley said previously about illegal pain clinics.  "That's my  opinion." 
Among other things, the city's ordinance requires that pain clinics be run by  a board-eligible physician with pain management fellowship training or certification, or a hospital-affiliated clinic managed by such a person.  A business found to be not in agreement with the city's rules faces suspension of its business license or revocation.

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Jan 24, 2013 Fogelsville, PA

January 24, 2013|By  Patrick Lester, Of The Morning Call

A former Fogelsville psychiatrist has been charged in connection with a  
prescription drug ring that involved several people who used fraudulent  
prescriptions in multiple Pennsylvania counties to get painkillers and other  
drugs, authorities said. 
Dr. David W. Daley, who practiced at 7729 Main St., was charged with 33  
counts of prescribing medication outside of accepted treatment principles and  
one count of helping patients fraudulently obtain prescription drugs, all  
felonies, according to the state attorney general's office, which filed the  
charges along with state police.

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Jan 23, 2013 Slidell, Louisiana Sentencing of Doctors and Pain Clinic Owner for Operating a Pill Mill

A pain clinic owner and two physicians, one from the Slidell area, were sentenced Friday by a Chief U.S. District Judge for their roles in running illegal pill mill clinics in Pensacola, Fla., and New Orleans.  Dr. Joseph G. Pastorek II, 62, of Spartan Loop in Slidell, was sentenced to one year imprisonment plus one additional year of home confinement, stated a news release from the Department of Justice. Pastorek and his business partners, 38-year-old Dennis M. Caroni of Los Angeles, Calif., the owner of Global Pain Management clinics; and 61-year-old Dr. Gerard M. DiLeo of Bradenton, Fla., were found guilty of conspiring to unlawfully distribute prescription painkillers in exchange for $8.5 million in cash. 

Caroni and DiLeo were also convicted of conspiring to unlawfully launder monetary gains from the trio’s prescription-drug distribution violations, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Florida. Chief U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers sentenced Caroni to 20 years in prison. DiLeo received a two-year prison sentence plus one additional year of home confinement for his role as the part owner of one of the clinics running the illegal operation, which is said to have taken place in both Florida and Louisiana between 2004 and 2008.

A sentencing hearing for all three defendants took place July 25 of last year but proceedings followed after Rodgers was given additional time to consider a ruling. The hearing resumed Jan. 17. According to U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh, pill mill investigations are a primary concern when it comes to healthcare fraud. “Operators of such clinics and the doctors they hire to peddle dangerous narcotics will be vigorously prosecuted by this office,” she said. “These defendants irresponsibly distributed oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone, and they operated outside the usual course of professional medical practice. In short, they were drug dealers.” Pastorek, DiLeo and Caroni were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Hensel and Alicia Kim following “Operation: Doc-In-A-Box”—a multi-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation along with the cooperative efforts of the Miami Division DEA, the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Tampa Field Office, Florida law enforcement, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In November, the Justice Department released information regarding the trial. Pastorek and DiLeo were both employed at Global Pain Clinics’ Metairie and Covington locations in 2004. Both physicians were licensed to practice medicine in the state of Louisiana, according to records with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, a governing board that posts disciplinary actions against doctors in the state online. During the trial, 39 witnesses testified the doctors conspired to unlawfully distribute prescription drugs, many being heavy narcotics in exchange for cash fees or office visit payments. DiLeo and Pastorek, who was paid $150 an hour regardless of how many patients he saw, would see roughly 40 to 80 patients each day. Over a four-year period, the two doctors garnered nearly $8.5 million illegally, court records show. The “Pensacola connection” to the conspiracy ring came from Caroni’s establishment, which opened in 2005. The clinic in Florida lasted just a few weeks and was independently continued by Caroni’s clinic manager under a different name. In March 2005, Pastorek was given a consent order by the Board of Medical Examiners following several complaints. In May 2006, the board subpoenaed the records of 62 of Pastorek’s patients. Of those, 16 came into question. It was in November 2007 that the problems became public. The board only released the abbreviations of patients’ names including: “J.S.,” “J.L.,” “K.H.,” among others. It noted that one patient, or “J.S.,” went to Pastorek’s office with history of an automobile accident and a recent pregnancy. The patient claimed she had been taking Lortabs for pain and complained about lower back problems and headaches. The female patient brought no radiological evidence and no appropriate physical examination was given. Not only that, but no attempt was made to obtain pregnancy records or automobile accident reports, the board found.  Nonetheless, “J.S.” was prescribed prescription drugs.  Another patient, or “J.F.,” went to Pastorek’s office in August 2005, with complaints of lower back pain, stemming from an automobile accident.  “She had been in prison ‘for heroin’ and had a history of drug abuse, and treatment in a methadone clinic,” the Board of Medical Examiners opinion says. Pastorek, having seen this individual for the first time, did no drug screens and proceeded to prescribe “J.F.” medications regardless of past history.  A third patient, or “J.B.,” went to Pastorek’s office in Jan. 2005 with complaints of neck and back pains. “He stated that he had been getting his medications on the street, but that he wanted a legitimate source,” the opinion said.  No drug screen was done as well as a physical exam. Nonetheless, Pastorek prescribed “J.B.” prescription drugs. Possibly most shocking is patient “K.H.” who reportedly answered, “yes” to the question “Are you addicted to prescription meds or illegal drugs.” “K.H.” was given no physical examination or a drug screen, but was provided a prescription for pills by authorization of Pastorek’s signature.

The board’s decision charged Pastorek with unprofessional conduct and violations of state “Pain Rules.” The only charge Pastorek was found not guilty of was “gross overcharging of professional services” since the doctor was compensated based on an hourly wage and did not set fees put forth by Global Pain Clinics. Pastorek’s medical license was revoked, suspended for three years and he was also forced to pay a $5,000 fine for costs of the proceeding. Pastorek was later prohibited from practicing medicine.  

The Slidell doctor would appeal the decision while brining in a key witness at an appeals hearing by the name of Dr. Fred Fisher, a California-based general practitioner. Fisher testified that in some instances, the Louisiana Pain rules were outdated and not “in line with the standard care for chronic pain patients.”  The appeals panel argued Pastorek “clearly ignored behavioral indicators,” “explicit admissions by the patients” and ignored clear evidence of doctor shopping.   “We reject Dr. Fisher’s opinion that these rules are outdated and that they do not represent the standard of care in Louisiana,” the appeals panel said. “In each of the cases, there are clear violations of the Pain Rules, as well as the principles of good medicine. Dr. Pastorek characterizes himself as the patients’ advocate. However, he is also a patients’ physician, and his medical decisions must be made in accordance with his duties as such, rather than the desires of the patient.”

(http://www.thesttammanynews.com/news/article_0a6ea838-64ea-11e2-80cf-0019bb2963f4.html#user-comment-area

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Jan 18, 2013-  AG: Hamtramck doctor issued more prescriptions than Henry Ford Medical Center

 

  By Gus Burns | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
 
 
Dr. Basil Qandil.jpg 
Dr. Qandil Basil of Hamtramck is out of business — for now. The Drug Enforcement Agency, with assistance from Hamtramck police, raided his office at 9222 Joeseph Campau in Hamtramck Wednesday, removing numerous boxes and and documents. Hamtramck police records indicate nine people were arrested. Five remained jailed on various miscellaneous warrants Thursday, said Hamtramck Police Chief Max Garbarino. Basil is accused of defrauding Medicare and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Prosecutors say prescription information they collected for April of 2012 indicated Qandil issued the second most prescription in the state during that time frame, 4,191 prescriptions, an average of 140 per day, more than most hospitals. The only facility to prescribe more than Qandil the University of Michigan hospitals. Qandil issued more prescriptions of controlled substances than Henry Ford Hospital Health System. The investigation stems from a disturbance at his office that occurred in June of 2012 when more than 20 people packed his small waiting room and 100 more wrapped along the exterior wall of the building blocking the entrances to other businesses.

Qandil told Hamtamck police he can usually see 40 to 50 patients in a span of 30 minutes. When asked how that it possible, more than one per minute, he had no response.

Basil Qandil.jpg
 
On another occasion a woman flagged down a Hamtramck police officer and reported that Dr. Qandil only accepts cash payments prior to 3 p.m. Medicare patients are seen after 3 p.m. and if she wanted an appointment, he would need $800 in cash. She also told police that Basil had repeatedly attempted to sell her unnecessary pain prescriptions, such as oxycodone and Opana.

The Michigan Automated Prescription System, founded in 2003, is meant to offer doctors a means to keep tabs on their patients prescription drug use, and compiles all data into a single accessible database. Reviewing data from MAPS, investigators discovered that Qandil issued nearly 2.5 million controlled prescription pills in a year period between August of 2011 and August of 2012 as follows:

Promethazine with codeine: 852,352 dosage units
Hydrocodone: 830,383
Alprazolam: 361,418
Carisoprodol: 119,239
Oxycodon: 76,076

The data reveals that Qandil issued nearly 80,000 prescriptions in a single year, nearly 80 per day if his officer were open all 365 days of the year. Most of the prescriptions were drugs that are heavily sold in the black market and abused.  Twenty-three of Qandil's patients traveled regularly from Ohio to his Hamtramck office for their prescriptions and numerous others traveled from distances far as 80 miles.

Undercover investigators visited the office on multiple occasions without medical records in an attempt to obtain narcotics. In one case, the undercover agent requested Roxicet or Oxycontin, but Qandil refused, stating that he could not issue prescriptions for those drugs without prior doctor records because they are heavily monitored. On another occasion, an agent obtained prescriptions for Vicodin, Daypro, Lipoderm ointment, an unknown muscle relaxant and a drug named Pro-Air after a 1-minute, 50-second consultation with Basil and no doctor records. Additionally, Qandil is accused of defrauding Medicare.

Records show he billed Medicare $2.7 million between 2009 and Oct. of 2012, of which Medicare paid $1.1 million, according to prosecutors. It's believed that Qandil, who claimed to see 60 to 70 patients per day, billed for unnecessary medications as well as various services that he could not possibly have performed based on the workload. He is currently incarcerated under a "temporary detention" signed by a federal magistrate on Wednesday. According to public records available on Nexis, Qandil lives on Brace in Detroit. The phone number associated with the address is not currently active.

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January 14, 2013

Jeffersonville Pain Management clinic owner indicted in Kentucky 

Federal charges include prescription drug and money laundering conspiracies 

The owner of a former Jeffersonville pain clinic, Clark County Wellness LLC., has been arrested and indicted for prescription drug and money laundering conspiracies.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry B. Harvey, announced the arrest and indictment of Ernest William Singleton, 44, Monday.

Singleton was arrested at the Washington County Sheriff's Department Monday morning and is charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to launder funds between October, 2010, and January, 2013, according to a press release issued by Conway’s office.

“Illegal pill mills have fueled the prescription drug epidemic in Kentucky that now kills more people than traffic accidents,” Conway said. “I appreciate the hard work of my Drug Branch Investigators, working in coordination with our state and federal law enforcement partners, in bringing this case forward.”

Singleton, Double D Holdings, LLC and S & R Medical Enterprise, LLC, formerly owned and operated Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management Center in Georgetown, Ky. and Grant County Wellness Clinic, in Dry Ridge, Ky. When Kentucky strengthened its laws regulating pain management clinics, Singleton moved his operations to Jeffersonville.

Despite opposition by the Franklin Commons residents, the clinic opened in late-July and operated through December.

However, the city of Jeffersonville served a notice that the clinic must shut down after the license of Dr. Lea Marlow, who worked at the Clark County Wellness Center, was suspended by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.

Jeffersonville passed a law that would limit where pain management clinics could locate after Clark County Wellness had opened. The pain management clinic was operating under a grandfather clause which became void when the board suspended Marlow’s license. Marlow also worked for Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management, also owned by Singleton.

According to a release from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, Marlow prescribed more than 8,000 prescriptions for 3,489 patients, with more than 95 percent receiving oxycodone. Virtually all of Marlow’s patients received identical treatment in the form of oxycodone and diazepam prescriptions and the business operated as “cash-only.”

Jeffersonville City Attorney Les Merkley said Monday he was unaware of any similar charges being pursued in Indiana.

He said the charges filed support one of the reasons why the city passed new regulations on pain management clinics and justifies where clinics located in the city.

Charges against Singleton are the result of an investigation by Kentucky's Department of Criminal Investigations, working in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and Kentucky State Police, according to the release. Prosecution of this case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In addition to the indictment, Singleton, Double D and S&R Medical Enterprises are subject to the forfeiture of farm land, vehicles, businesses and other property that were acquired as proceeds of or used to facilitate the alleged crimes.

Search and seizure warrants were executed today at numerous locations including a Georgetown pharmacy co-owned by Singleton and two private residences in Springfield and Lawrenceburg, according to the release.

A court date for Singleton has not been set. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.

No physicians were named in this indictment, but the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has taken disciplinary action against five doctors affiliated with the Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management Center and Grant County Wellness Clinic, according to the release.

Two of the doctors have agreed to indefinite practice restrictions and must pay $10,000 fines for violating the Medical Practice Act, while one physician remains suspended pending final action by Kentucky’s license board.

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Jan 7, 2013  Huntington, WV: Former physician sentenced

The sentence was handed down in federal court after statements were made by family members of three people killed in a 2009 automobile accident caused by a patient of Dawson’s who was addicted to prescription drugs. Dawson also made a statement herself. She had surrendered her osteopathic license to practice in September 2011 after a agent federal raid on her office in July 2010.  The medical license had been suspended by the state Osteopathic Board.  

Along with the automobile accident victims, nine others who died of drug overdoses were Dawson's patients, which Chambers said is cause to impose a sentence more severe than the minimum, according to guidelines. The maximum sentence would have been four years in prison.   

Clearly over the years, “hundreds or thousands of these dangerous prescription drugs were prescribed by you to these individuals who were obviously addicted,” Chambers said. “You were willfully blind or deliberately indifferent. ... If we’re going to deal with this horrible problem (of widespread prescription drug abuse), doctors have to be held responsible.”

I'm so sorry. I didn't intend to hurt anyone. I've read your statements (provided to the judge) and they will remain a part of my life forever," Dawson said.

Chad Lovejoy is the attorney for the Crawford family and says the family appreciates the message being sent to other doctors through today's sentence.

"They appreciate the message being sent to the rogue elements of the community that this prescription epidemic is a scourge, that lives are being lost and pain is being felt,” Lovejoy said.

Dawson was not taken into custody Monday, But will be notified when she is required to report to federal prison.

Dawson’s attorney requested her time be served in the federal prison at Alderson, in Greenbrier County, W.Va., and Chambers consented.

 

 

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December 17, 2012  Odessa Doctor's Medical License Seized Following Criminal Charge Involving Meth, Painkillers
by Jen Kastner  NewsWest 9 
ODESSA- The Odessa doctor charged in connection to a meth and painkiller distribution ring is packing up his practice. The Texas Medical Board issued 
a  temporary suspension of his medical license while his criminal accusations are  being investigated. Dr. Barrett Doyle Whitefield operated a general practice and family 
medicine  clinic at 6110 Eastridge in Odessa. On Monday, a "for lease" sign was already  displayed next to the front office doors.  The Texas Medical Board tells NewsWest 9, the license suspension was issued last Friday.  "It's a special legal process that takes place when the board has reason to believe that this individual poses a real, continuing threat to public health  and welfare," board spokesperson, Leigh Hopper, said. Dr. Whitefield and seven others were indicted in late November for conspiring  to intentionally distribute methamphetamine and hydrocodone painkillers.  He will  need to seize his practice while the criminal charge is still pending.  An an affidavit to search his office was just unsealed on Monday. Within it,  the Drug Enforcement Administration details why the Midland Police Department  opened up a case in the first place.  The DEA reports that Christina Barfield, also listed in the indictment with Dr. Whitefield and six others, was employed at the doctor's practice before an  investigation began. According to the documents, she and Dr. 
Whitefield were  working together, providing controlled substances through fraudulent prescriptions to others who were illegally distributing them. The reports explains that MPD started off its operation by using sources to buy prescription drugs from Barfield, mostly hydrocodone and alprazolam, a painkiller and an anxiety medication. They were all prescribed by Dr.  
Whitefield, and often contained fraudulent addresses and dates of birth. The affidavit details how Barfield was later arrested and confessed her  involvement in the illegal distribution ring. In the process, she exposed her co-conspirator, Dr. Whitefield, for keeping records of fictitious patients and  paying her to send people to him as alleged patients to get 
prescriptions.  The documents go on to show how she later cooperated with the department's  investigation by jumping in on a sting operation which later revealed that 
Dr.  Whitefield would take a few hundred dollars in exchange for a prescription  written out for a fictitious person. At this time, it is still unknown to us why methamphetamine distribution 
was  written into the charge.  How common is it for Texas doctors to get indicted for similar charges , "Well, the methamphetamine part is pretty unusual. I've not seen that, but, 
unfortunately, the painkiller-type drugs [are] very, very common. It's sad to  say," Hopper said. Dr. Whitefield has an arraignment set for this Tuesday at the Midland 
federal  courthouse. Christina Barfield and the six others included in the ring have  various hearings scheduled over the next few weeks.

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December 15, 2012  West Virginia   Oak Hill physician charged_ 
(http://www.register-herald.com/todaysfrontpage/x942853544/Oak-Hill-physician-charged

An Oak Hill physician has been charged with drug trafficking offenses,  according to the Fayette County Sheriff's Department.
Dr. Oscar Gosien,  73, was taken into custody Friday for the felony offenses of delivery of a  controlled substance and conspiracy to commit a felony.
His secretary,  Kathy Treadway, 54, was also charged with the same two offenses. They  were arrested at Dr. Gosien?s office on Lamplighter Road in Oak Hill; 
they have  not yet been arraigned in the Magistrate Court of Fayette County and no bond has  been set. The arrests stem from a lengthy investigation conducted by  officers from 
the Central West Virginia Drug Task Force, the Fayette County  Sheriff's Office, the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal  Investigation and the 
Oak Hill Police Department.  Personnel from each of  these agencies, assisted by uniformed troopers from the Oak Hill detachment of  the West Virginia State Police, conducted these 
arrests. Additional  charges are anticipated to be filed in the very near future.  "We have  been receiving complaints about Dr. Gosien for a long time," 
Sheriff Steve  Kessler said. Investigators have obtained numerous statements alleging that Dr.  Gosien frequently provides various prescription medications to female patients  in exchange for sexual favors from these females. Pills prescribed by Dr. Gosien  have also been linked to several drug overdose deaths in Fayette County in  recent years.
Kessler added, "It's bad enough that we have people  selling illegal drugs on the streets and breaking into homes to steal  prescription medication. What we have with this case is a licensed drug dealer,  a physician, who has abused his oath as a medical doctor and who has allegedly  been trading prescription pills for sexual favors. Residents of this county have  died from the abuse of these prescription pills that were prescribed by Dr.  Gosien, and this is unacceptable to me."  This case remains under  investigation by the Central West Virginia Drug Task Force, the Fayette County  Sheriff?s Office, the West Virginia State Police and the Oak Hill Police  Department. 

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December 10, 2012  Amarillo, TX   Pill Mill" doc with local ties suspended  
By Jim  McBride Amarillo Globe-News. 
(http://amarillo.com/news/2012-12-10/pill-mill-doc-local-ties-suspended#license-50c652ca28e9
b) 
The Texas Medical Board has temporarily suspended a Houston doctor's medical  license after investigators said he operated two unlicensed "pill mill" 
clinics  and funneled more than $92,000 in illegal profits from one clinic  to an Amarillo  bank account. Citing an "imminent peril" to public health and safety, the Texas Medical  
Board on Friday temporarily suspended the medical license of Dr. Joseph A. Tafel. Tafel surrendered his authority to write prescriptions on Oct. 22 
when  undercover agents raided four Houston-area clinics he owned or supervised, the  board said in an order. Before the raid, undercover drug agents posed as patients with fake 
illnesses  and obtained prescriptions from the clinics this year, according to court  records. The raids were part of an ongoing state and federal investigation into  illegal sales of hydrocodone, commonly known as "hillbilly heroin," Xanax and  muscle relaxers at the four clinics. "He had four pain clinics, two of them unregistered," Leigh Hopper, a  
spokeswoman for the Texas Medical Board, said Monday. "He cannot practice at  all. He can't see patients in any way, shape or form. ... He's out of business  for now." 
Tafel did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on Monday.  Hopper said the suspension will remain in place indefinitely until the board  takes further action. 
The Texas Medical Board could either revoke Tafel?s license or reach a settlement with him, Hopper said.  Lisa Simpson, a DEA spokeswoman, said Monday no one has been charged in the Houston clinic raids.  On Oct. 31., Potter County authorities seized $92,136 from Tafel's personal Amarillo National Bank account, money investigators said represented illegal  profits from prescription drug sales at one Houston-area clinic, Physical  Rehabilitation LLC, court records show. After searching the clinics, agents analyzed receipt ledgers from Physical  Rehabilitation and detailed a large volume of cash payments, mostly for  $100 or  $120, received at the clinic, according to court records.  
Clinic employees told investigators the business only accepted cash payments,  and Tafel told investigators most of the patients visited the clinic for pain  management, according to a law enforcement affidavit. Hooper said Texas has about 300 licensed pain management clinics. Between Jan. 3 and June 22, Tafel prescribed 2,804 controlled substance  
prescriptions out of Physical Rehabilitation, according to state records.  According to a report from the Texas Department of Public Safety Regulatory 
Services Division, 98 percent of those prescriptions were either for  hydrocodone, Xanax, or Soma, a muscle relaxant. The other three clinics also wrote thousands of prescriptions for the drugs,  court records show.  Federal authorities estimated the four clinics supervised by Tafel had more than 6,000 patients and that Tafel earned $720,000 from managing, 
supervising  and operating  "illicit pill mills" in the Houston area, according to Potter  County court records. Hopper said the board had no records of any pain management clinics 
operated  by Tafel in Amarillo.  State records listed no disciplinary actions against Tafel or any of the four  clinics, but the Texas Medical Board has disciplined 19 Texas pain 
management  clinics since 2011. Several of the clinics voluntarily surrendered pain  management certificates allowing them to dispense prescription drugs. In an affidavit, a DEA agent said various pain management clinics are prescribing what is known as the "Houston Cocktail," one of three prescription drugs that fetch $5 apiece in street-level drug sales. 
On Oct. 24, Amarillo National Bank responded to a grand jury subpoena and  produced documents related to Tafel;s ANB accounts. 
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December 10, 2012  NJ Doctor Goes To Prison For Selling Prescriptions For Addictive Painkiller To Drug Dealer

(http://njtoday.net/2012/12/10/nj-doctor-goes-to-prison-for-selling-prescriptions-for-addictive-painkiller-to-drug-dealer/#)  

TRENTON   A medical doctor who formerly had an office in Lawrence has been sentenced to state prison for selling prescriptions for the highly 
addictive  painkiller Percocet to a drug dealer in the names of purported patients he never  treated or examined, and creating false medical records to back up 
the  prescriptions, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced. On Friday, Dec. 7, Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier in Trenton  
sentenced William C. Kropinicki, 59, of Morrisville, Pa., to seven years in state prison. Kropinicki was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The doctor 
was  on trial when he pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 to all charges in the indictment  against him, including second-degree conspiracy; second-degree 
distribution of  oxycodone, sold under the brand name Percocet; third-degree obtaining a  controlled dangerous substance by fraud; and fourth-degree 
falsification or  alteration of records related to medical care.  The charges resulted from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Division of Consumer Affairs  Enforcement Bureau and the Bordentown City Police Department. The State Board of  Medical Examiners revoked Kropinicki?s license to practice medicine in New Jersey in 2008 after the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau filed  an action against his license based on his illegal writing of Percocet  
prescriptions.  Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley prosecuted the case and represented  the Division of Criminal Justice at the sentencing. The lead 
investigator was  Investigator Richard Lizzano of the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement  Bureau. "The prison sentence imposed on this doctor should send a loud and clear  
message to all medical professionals that they will face stern punishment if they knowingly prescribe or supply dangerous narcotics to individuals who do not  have a legitimate medical need for them," said Chiesa. "We will not tolerate  doctors who violate the law and contribute to the deadly epidemic of  prescription painkiller addiction sweeping the nation." 'The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute doctors, pharmacists and drug dealers who seek to profit  
from the black market for narcotic painkillers in New Jersey," said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. "The Division's Enforcement Bureau aggressively investigates cases of  prescription drug diversion by the healthcare professionals New Jersey trusts to  responsibly prescribe controlled painkillers,"  Eric T. Kanefsky, acting 
director  of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. "Prescription painkiller  abuse now kills more Americans each year than heroin and cocaine combined. A  doctor who abuses the privilege to prescribe these substances is as much of a  threat to the health and safety of society as a drug dealer on the street. The  Division will continue to take all necessary steps to halt illegal diversion of  these substances." Kropinicki was indicted on Jan. 9, 2009, along with a co-defendant, Carl Hames, 48, of Trenton. Hames pleaded guilty on May 6, 2010 to a second-degree charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute and a third-degree  charge of possession of Percocet with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of  a school property.  On August 12, 2008, Hames went to Kropinicki's medical office and paid him for eight prescriptions for Percocet, giving Kropinicki eight names and paying  him $100 for each prescription for 120 pills. Kropinicki wrote the eight  prescriptions and subsequently created false medical records for each of 
the  eight names, indicating he had physically examined each of the purported  patients, when, in fact, he had not. Hames told investigators that he frequently obtained illegal prescriptions  for Percocet from Kropinicki in that fashion. Hames was arrested on the same day  that Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions, after Hames filled all 
of the  prescriptions at a pharmacy in Bordentown City. The pharmacy alerted police  about the suspicious prescriptions and Hames was arrested following a vehicle  stop by a Bordentown City police officer. A bag containing more than 800  Percocet pills was seized from the vehicle. Further investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and Division of  
Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau established that Kropinicki had conspired  with Hames since at least the start of 2008 to write prescriptions for Percocet  for people he never treated or examined. The DCA Enforcement Bureau conducted a  thorough review of records related to prescriptions written by Kropinicki,  uncovering hundreds of suspicious prescriptions. 

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Mon, 10 Dec 2012 16:10:46 -0500 (EST) Doc accused again of illegally selling prescriptions Published: By ZACHARY R. DOWDY This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "  Dr. Binod Singh of Bay Shore was charged  with second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and two counts of  criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions, and with  driving while intoxicated. (Mar. 25, 2010)  The Bay Shore oncologist who was arrested during a sting  operation in March 2010 and convicted of selling prescriptions has been arrested  again on a new charge for the same offense, officials said. Binod Singh, 42, of Oakwood Boulevard, and an associate, Steven Chin, were  arrested Friday by federal _Drug  Enforcement Administration_  agents for selling oxycodone prescriptions, said  Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned Saturday in federal court in  Brooklyn. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday night. According to an affidavit submitted by a federal agent who was part of the  recent undercover operation, Singh would sell the prescriptions calling for 120  to 180 pills of 30mg doses of oxycodone for between $1,200 and $1,800, and he  accepted only cash as payment. The agent said a confidential informant observed Singh complete a transaction  at 111 Maple Ave. in Bay Shore, using DEA numbers of licensed physicians to  prepare prescriptions for fake patients in exchange for cash, and that Chin  printed out the paper on which the fraudulent prescriptions were written. After his 2010 arrest, Singh was ordered by a judge to surrender his medical  license and passport. Police stopped him on March 26, 2010, as he drove erratically. He was charged with criminal diversion of prescription medications, a  misdemeanor, criminal sale of a controlled substance and driving while  intoxicated. His drunken driving charge was upgraded to a felony because he had  been convicted of driving while under the influence or with alcohol or  drugs. He was convicted in that case and released in October but a joint task force  of police and agents has been tracking his movements since he was released,  according to the affidavit.

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December 9, 2012 Los Angeles  LA Times  DR. CARLOS ESTIANDAN WAS UP TO NO GOOD, AND THE MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA WAS ON TO HIM. BY LISA GIRION AND SCOTT GLOVER. VIDEO AND PHOTOS BY LIZ O. BAYLEN

He prescribed powerful painkillers to addicts who had no medical need for them, conducted sham examinations and appeared to be a key supplier for drug dealers, according to court records. He wrote more prescriptions than the entire staffs of some hospitals and took in more than $1 million a year. Worse, one of Estiandan's patients had fatally overdosed on drugs he prescribed, a board investigator learned. The investigator said in her report that she confronted the doctor and told him the death was "the inevitable result" of giving narcotics to an addict. Unknown to the investigator, two other Estiandan patients had suffered fatal overdoses. More deaths would follow. By the time the medical board stopped Estiandan from prescribing, more than four years after it began investigating, eight of his patients had died of overdoses or related causes, according to coroners' records. It was not an isolated case of futility by California's medical regulators. The board has repeatedly failed to protect patients from reckless prescribing by doctors, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. It is board policy to give such cases a high priority. But The Times' examination of board records and county coroners' files from 2005 through 2011 found that:At least 30 patients in Southern California have died of drug overdoses or related causes while their doctors were under investigation for reckless prescribing. The board ultimately sanctioned all but one of those 12 doctors, and some were criminally charged — too late to prevent the deaths. The board seldom tries to suspend the prescribing privileges of doctors under investigation. The agency can petition a judge for an interim suspension order. It has obtained orders only rarely: 12 times in the last five years in cases of excessive prescribing, in a state with more than 100,000 practicing physicians. Even when the board sanctions doctors for abusing their prescribing powers, in most cases it allows them to continue practicing and prescribing. In 80% of the 190 cases of improper prescribing filed by the board since 2005, the offending physician was given a reprimand or placed on probation. In most of those cases, the doctor was allowed to continue writing prescriptions with few or no restrictions. Eight doctors disciplined for excessive prescribing later had patients die of overdoses or related causes. Prescriptions those doctors wrote caused or contributed to 19 deaths. At the heart of these shortcomings is the board's approach to oversight. It investigates when it receives a complaint of abuse or poor treatment of a specific patient or patients. It generally does not look for evidence of wider problems in a physician's practice. For example, in looking into cases of improper prescribing, investigators usually do not search county coroners' files to determine whether — as in Estiandan's case — a doctor's patients are dying of drug overdoses. Dr. Rick Chavez, a pain management physician in Redondo Beach, serves as an expert for the board in cases of reckless prescribing. He said overprescribing is a pervasive problem, and oversight is inadequate. "We have doctors out there doing things that no one is monitoring," he said. "It's scary." The medical board's president, Sharon Levine, a pediatrician who is an executive at Kaiser Permanente, declined to be interviewed, saying it would be "inappropriate" because disciplinary cases are ultimately decided by the board. Executive Director Linda Whitney declined to comment, and staff members said they are barred by policy from speaking with reporters. Responding by email to written questions, board officials asserted that their "highest priority and primary mission is consumer protection." In response to The Times' findings, they have asked the Legislature to require county coroners to report all prescription drug deaths to the board. "If only one physician was found to be overprescribing," the board said in its request to legislators, "this could save numerous lives."

 Estiandan, a diminutive man with a cheerful demeanor, had a thriving general practice. He sang tenor in his church choir, played golf once a week with his sons and took his wife ballroom dancing. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and led medical relief missions to the Philippines, where he grew up and attended medical school. In October 2004, one of his employees reached out anonymously to authorities. The man told Robin Hollis, a medical board investigator, that Estiandan, then 62, was taking in $3,000 in cash a day selling prescriptions. Drug-addicted patients, the employee said, crowded the lobby of the doctor's clinic west of downtown Los Angeles, one of three he owned. "Estiandan will give the patients anything they want," he told Hollis, according to her report. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were also investigating Estiandan, and the agencies shared information. Evidence accumulated quickly. Alleged drug dealers were arrested in Los Angeles carrying bottles of medications prescribed by Estiandan, court records show. A Costco pharmacist reported that groups of men in their 20s and 30s were showing up at his counter with prescriptions from Estiandan for painkillers, tranquilizers and muscle relaxants — the makings of a drug cocktail that is popular with addicts. The pharmacist, Edward Wong, told authorities he would call Estiandan to make sure the prescriptions were legitimate, and the doctor would instruct him to fill them. Eventually, Wong stopped calling and simply refused to fill the prescriptions. In Albuquerque, DEA agents stopped a man who was carrying more than 1,800 pills and several bottles of narcotic cough syrup with a street value of up to $500 each. According to court records, the medication labels identified Estiandan as the prescriber. In the summer of 2005, about 10 months into the investigation, Leo Martinez checked in at Estiandan's clinic in Reseda. He paid a $120 fee for the office visit and waited a half-hour to see the doctor. What happened next is detailed in court records.Estiandan asked Martinez what was wrong. "Nothing," Martinez said. He explained that he wanted a refill for painkillers he had been prescribed by another doctor whose clinic had since closed. Estiandan asked him why he was in pain: Had he fallen or been in an accident? No, Martinez replied. Estiandan said the other doctor must have had a reason to prescribe painkillers. Martinez said it was a long time ago and he couldn't remember. Estiandan told Martinez he couldn't prescribe the drugs unless there was an indication Martinez was in pain. Then he asked Martinez again if he had hurt his back or been in an accident. This time, Estiandan nodded and raised his eyebrows. Reading the cue, Martinez said he hurt his back lifting weights. Estiandan pulled out his prescription pad. Martinez was an undercover sheriff's narcotics investigator who had been secretly recording the conversation. He left Estiandan's office with prescriptions for the painkiller Vicodin, the muscle relaxant Soma, the anti-anxiety drug Valium and a 16-ounce bottle of narcotic cough syrup. The medical board and law enforcement agencies were not the only ones interested in Estiandan. Medi-Cal agents suspected him of fraudulent billing and put him under surveillance. They followed him as he drove home to Northridge in a Lincoln Navigator or Lexus sedan, sometimes stopping at a hospital or to pick up takeout at a Filipino restaurant. But amid this intense scrutiny of Estiandan's life and medical practice, one thing appears to have escaped attention: what was happening to his patients. One of them, Pamela Stone, suffered chronic pain from herniated disks. She also struggled with anxiety and had trouble sleeping. Stone's mother grew concerned when she didn't hear from her daughter for a couple of days and asked the manager of the Reseda apartment building where Stone lived to check on her. On Nov. 20, 2006, the manager opened the door to the apartment and found Stone's lifeless body on her bed. There was a trace of dried white foam around her nose and mouth. The coroner determined that Stone died of an accidental overdose of multiple drugs, including an anti-anxiety medication prescribed by Estiandan. She was 54. Hollis continued with her investigation, unaware of the death.

Hollis is one of about 130 medical board investigators on the front lines of patient protection in California. They look into allegations of physician misconduct ranging from botched surgeries to sexual abuse of patients. Their ranks have dwindled, even as the number of licensed physicians in the state has risen over the last decade, to 102,000. There are about 30 fewer investigators today than in 2001. The board opened 1,577 investigations last year, a 40% decline from a decade ago, and investigations now take longer to complete: an average of 347 days, compared with 256 in 2001.

Members of the Medical Board of California meet in Torrance in May. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the Medical Board of California meet in Torrance in May. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

 

The agency is overseen by a 15-member board appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. By law, eight members must be doctors. The board is funded by physician licensing fees, a revenue stream that was supposed to be immune to California's boom-and-bust budget cycles.

 

But Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown used the board as a piggy bank, taking $15 million in licensing fees — the equivalent of a quarter of one year's budget — to help fill holes in the state general fund.

 

Schwarzenegger ordered state employees to take three unpaid furlough days per month, hobbling the board's enforcement efforts. Brown imposed hiring freezes. At one point, 1 in 4 investigator positions were vacant.  The board's staff has warned for years that the cuts were crippling its ability to protect the public. Julianne D'Angelo Fellmeth, a public interest lawyer who has monitored the board for the state Legislature, said the situation is urgent. "The medical board is regulating the most important profession in terms of irreparable harm," Fellmeth said. "It should not be neutered." The board's challenges go beyond the financial. Unlike medical regulators in other states, it cannot suspend a doctor's license or prescribing privileges on its own, even to prevent imminent harm. Instead, the board must petition a state administrative law judge for an interim suspension order. If it obtains an order, the board must file a complaint against the doctor within 15 days — a legal provision for which physician groups lobbied, Fellmeth said. The 15-day rule means that "an investigation must be nearly complete" before the agency can seek a suspension, board spokeswoman Jennifer Simoes wrote in an email. If a doctor has been criminally charged, the board can ask a Superior Court judge for a suspension. It has done so a handful of times in recent years in cases of excessive prescribing. Board officials said they sometimes hold off on seeking suspensions until that point to avoid jeopardizing a criminal investigation. Steve Opferman, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who runs a task force on healthcare fraud and took part in the Estiandan investigation, questioned that rationale. He said the board should move swiftly to shut down a doctor's prescribing whenever lives are at stake — even if it could affect a criminal prosecution. The danger in waiting, he said, is that "people are going to die."

 Andrew Corless began abusing drugs at the age of 15 and spent at least eight stints in drug treatment. On Aug. 11, 2006, he had a moment of resolve. He called Estiandan's office at 11:45 a.m. that day and left a message.He was about to undergo drug detoxification, according to a handwritten note by a receptionist, and he asked that the doctor "please not see him anymore." Three hours later, Corless called back with a message "to disregard" the earlier call. Corless was in Estiandan's office 10 days later, pleading for drugs, court records show. He was back again in December, this time after leaving rehab early. On Dec. 13, 2006, Corless, 46, was found on the street in front of his house in Northridge, dead of an overdose. Two of the drugs found in his system — hydrocodone and alprazolam— had been prescribed for him by Estiandan. A month later, authorities searched Estiandan's offices and home. They found hundreds of partially completed prescription forms, some of them already signed, along with $12,300 in cash, court records show. Looking at patients' records, investigators saw that groups of people from as far as Bakersfield, the Antelope Valley, Victorville and San Bernardino would show up at Estiandan's clinic near downtown Los Angeles on the same day, describe the same symptoms and leave with prescriptions for the same drugs. Shortly after the raid, Estiandan was back at work — and writing prescriptions at a furious pace. DEA agents consulted a database on prescriptions for controlled substances, written for patients paying in cash, to see where Estiandan stood. For March 2007, he ranked first in Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii, and fifth in the United States, according to court records. For Joyce Saldivar, 55, he prescribed hydrocodone. Saldivar had chronic back pain and was known to abuse her medications, according to coroner's records. She died June 29, 2007. The cause was an overdose of multiple drugs, including hydrocodone. 

Estiandan acknowledged that Corless was an alcoholic and an addict and had “begged” him for drugs, according to Hollis' report.

 

By then, Hollis had learned about Corless' death from his girlfriend, who complained to the medical board about Estiandan, court records show.

 

Hollis got Corless' medical records and the autopsy report, and summoned Estiandan to an interview at a board office in Glendale on Sept. 12, 2007.

 

Estiandan acknowledged that Corless was an alcoholic and an addict and had "begged" him for drugs, according to Hollis' report. Hollis told Estiandan that she couldn't understand how he could "continue to give pain medication to a person who is addicted," according to her report. "I explained that now there was a patient death.... This was the inevitable result. It was just a matter of time." Hollis later obtained a report from an expert physician stating that Estiandan's treatment of Corless included "extreme departures" from accepted standards and contributed to his death. Another patient, Wilma Jones, 47, was found dead in an unfurnished one-room apartment in South Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2008. She had contracted pneumonia, and various drugs had suppressed her breathing to the point of death, coroner's records show. One of the drugs was hydrocodone, which Estiandan had prescribed for her, records show. Within a six-week span that summer, three more people died after taking medications prescribed by Estiandan. In all, seven of his patients had died since the medical board began investigating nearly four years earlier.

Estiandan, an early riser, was on the computer, tending to his stock portfolio on the morning of July 23, 2008, when a throng of DEA agents and sheriff's deputies appeared at his doorstep. The doctor was polite and cooperative as an officer handcuffed him and led him to a police car. He was charged with 13 felony counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances. He was not charged with any of his patients' deaths. Three weeks later, the medical board asked a Superior Court judge to suspend Estiandan's license, saying it was "the surest way to protect the public" from a doctor who "supplied patients with drugs, not medical care."  While the board waited for a ruling, Estiandan was free on bail and seeing patients. Byron McKinney, a former pro wrestler, had been seeing Estiandan for eight years and had gotten hooked on the muscle relaxant carisoprodol, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and a narcotic cough syrup, according to his brother, Clint. McKinney, 33, died Nov. 18, 2008, of heart disease. The coroner said carisoprodol and hydrocodone were contributing factors. An empty bottle of hydrocodone cough syrup prescribed by Estiandan was found on a coffee table near McKinney's body.

 

This is the second in a series of occasional stories on the epidemic of prescription drug deaths. For this article, reporters Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, with help from reporter Hailey Branson-Potts, examined medical board records, coroners' files and court documents, and interviewed doctors, law enforcement officials and relatives of those who died from overdoses.

Times photojournalist Liz O. Baylen created still images and videos, contributed reporting and helped conduct interviews.

Stephanie Ferrell designed the web presentation and Armand Emamdjomeh created the interactivity.

 

Clint McKinney told a coroner's investigator that he and his brother "were able to regularly obtain prescription painkillers at free will via an unethical doctor who would write them five prescriptions for $120," records show. In February 2009, six months after the board went to court, a judge barred Estiandan from prescribing painkillers and other addictive drugs. He surrendered his medical license that September. The next year, he was tried and convicted on the criminal charges and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in September after serving about half his term. A few days later, he spoke with Times reporters in the spacious home where he now lives on a ridge of the Verdugo Mountains in Burbank. He referred to his time in state prison as "my vacation" and described how he practiced guitar, tutored inmates, volunteered in the chapel and read the Bible. By turns defensive and contrite, Estiandan complained of being unfairly targeted by prosecutors for simply doing his job. He said he warned patients of the dangers of becoming addicted to prescription drugs, telling them: "Eventually you will lose control of yourself." He recalled that his wife, Gloria, a nurse, had warned that he was headed for trouble. She saw the disheveled people in his waiting room, Estiandan said, and told him: "Just let them go." Estiandan, now 70, said he was not motivated by greed and never intentionally harmed patients. But he said he realizes he used poor judgment in prescribing drugs. "Instead of helping them, I might have harmed them," he said of his patients. "I made a mistake."

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Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2012  Doctor seeks return of $88K seized in W Virginia  pill mill  probe

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A physician is appealing the  forfeiture of $88,000 seized following a raid on the West Virginia pain clinic  where she became the state's top subscriber of controlled substances, court  filings show. Dr. Katherine Hoover has petitioned the 4th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals following a federal judge's ruling allowing prosecutors  to keep the seized funds. The appeals court received records from her case this  week. Federal prosecutors have sought the forfeiture of  $2.2 million worth of assets seized as part of the March 2010 search of the  Mountain Medical Care Center and related properties. The $88,000 includes around  $85,000 from a 
bank account and $2,900 found in a bureau drawer at the  Williamson apartment Hoover shared with another doctor. Investigators allege the Mingo County clinic, closed  since the raid, recklessly provided pain drug prescriptions to thousands of  people. Hoover moved to the Bahamas, where she owns property with her husband,  following the raid and has not been charged. Another clinic physician, Dr.  William Ryckman, pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy to misuse a Drug  Enforcement 
Administration registration number. Hoover's apartment mate, Dr.  Diane Shafer, received a six-month prison term in September for her guilty plea  to that 
charge. U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. ordered  the forfeiture of Hoover's funds Sept. 28, citing an FBI analysis that traced  the bank account's 
balance to clinic proceeds. His decision also referred to  West Virginia Board of Pharmacy records that showed 355,134 controlled substance  prescriptions issued under Hoover's DEA registration number between December  2002 and February 2010, the most of any prescriber in the state.  Copenhaver rejected arguments from Hoover and her  husband, acting without a lawyer in the case, that the seized bank funds  reflected family assets unrelated to the clinic. Hoover has also alleged that  the federal government has no jurisdiction over the practice of medicine.  Copenhaver called those and related arguments by the couple "patently  frivolous.'' Hoover had twice 
failed to appear to testify in the civil  forfeiture case, and Copenhaver's ruling orders her to pay $217 as a  result. The judge's order also called for the prompt return  of $27,000 also seized from a Hoover bank account, after prosecutors dropped  efforts to have those funds forfeited. The couple had argued that this money had  nothing to do with the clinic. The money was returned Oct. 31, according to  court filings. Now in her 60s, Hoover has long advocated a more  lenient approach to prescribing drugs to patients suffering chronic pain. But  with West Virginia a national leader in overdose deaths per capita, mostly  related to prescription drugs, both state and federal officials have made  prescription drug abuse a top target. The West Virginia Board of Medicine  revoked her license to practice in the state last year, in an unrelated  disciplinary case that pre-dates the raid.  Shafer forfeited $134,550 as part of her plea deal  with prosecutors. Both she and Ryckman agreed to cooperate in the pill mill  probe. Ryckman saw his six-month sentence and one-year term of supervised  release reduced in September to a three-year term of probation, including six  months in community confinement, after prosecutors said he had substantially  assisted them.

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December 7, 2012   Fort Wayne, Indiana Pain doctor agrees to suspension  Niki  Kelly | The Journal Gazette
  
INDIANAPOLIS  Dr. William Hedrick agreed to an  emergency suspension of his medical license Thursday, giving him time to gather  information to fight 
charges that he is using dangerous prescribing practices at  his Fort Wayne pain center.  But the state licensure action isn't the only battle Hedrick currently 
faces:  Multiple lawsuits have been filed against him by former colleagues, and  since  The Journal Gazette first reported Monday about the possible license 
suspension,  several former patients have come forward alleging Hedrick got them addicted to  controlled substances. Hedrick is the founder and president of the Centers for Pain Relief, based in  Fort Wayne but with more than a dozen other locations in northern Indiana. His attorney, Stacy Cook, released a statement saying: "While we deny the  allegations, we take them very seriously. To reassure his patients and the  communities he serves, we voluntarily agreed to a short and temporary suspension  until next month to allow us time to present all the facts necessary to  satisfy the Medical Licensing Board regarding his practice."
The statement also said Hedrick is committed to his patients and the  continuity of their care.  "He has already made arrangements for his patients to be treated by other  qualified physicians in his practice," Cook said.  The Attorney General?s Office on Monday filed for an emergency suspension of  his license, alleging Hedrick's prescribing habits are not "medically sound and  pose substantial risk to the safety of his patients."   Numerous patients have died from multiple drug toxicity while in Hedrick's  care, according to the Attorney General's Office.  The filing also said some of the specific concerns include the use of unsafe  pharmacological mixes and unusually high pill counts frequently associated with  diversion, or the illegal reselling of medication. If the licensing board had ruled today on the emergency suspension, it could  have been for up to 90 days. Instead, Hedrick agreed to a shorter suspension,  until Jan. 24, at which point a full hearing will be conducted.  The Attorney General's Office must file a formal licensing complaint by Dec.  21, which generally includes more evidence.  
The board then has the authority to determine at the Jan. 24 hearing whether  discipline is appropriate. Huntington County Coroner Philip Zahm, who started a local task force to look  into prescription drug deaths, said his group provided the state some  information related to the Hedrick case but is letting the Attorney General's Office handle the investigation.  So far this year, there have been 12 deaths in Huntington County attributed to prescription drug overdoses. "This is an excellent start to identify issues in our area and try to curb  the deaths we have seen," Zahm said.  Patients react  Since the allegations broke Monday, several former patients of Hedrick have contacted The Journal Gazette to discuss the care provided by Hedrick. David Showalter of Pleasant Lake said he saw Hedrick for several months about  six years ago at offices in both Angola and Fort Wayne. He has fibromyalgia and  is on disability because of it.  "It kept escalating to more and more Vicodin and it wasn't fixing the  problem. I was like a druggie," the 61-year-old said.  "I just told him it had to  stop."  Showalter says he became addicted and suffered through months of withdrawal afterward. He is stable now on non-narcotic medications.  Pamela James of Fort Wayne had a similar experience. She went to Hedrick for severe back pain for about a decade. Eventually she was taking multiple serious  narcotics at the highest dosage, four times a day.  "I was on so much medication I shouldn?t be alive today, "she said. "My addiction got so bad that it wasn't enough and the pain was still bleeding through. I lived like a ghost."  James went to rehab to get clean and now lives in pain but without drugs.  "I hope they stop this man," she said.  Hedrick declined to comment Thursday.   A statement on the Centers for Pain Relief Facebook page Tuesday called the case crazy.  "It is just a bunch of disgruntled employees that were fired. They are trying  to ambush our company. Everything is false. We will still function as a company  and would be glad to help you with your pain management," it said.  The Facebook comment appears to refer to pending lawsuits between Hedrick and  several former colleagues at the center. A number of former doctors and the  former CEO at the Centers for Pain Relief sued Hedrick in Allen Superior  Court.  The two separate lawsuits, filed one after another in mid-October, alleged  that the doctors " Daniel Roth, Michael Cozzi, Hary Ailinani and Summit Pain  Management " and the CEO, Matthew Cavacini, expressed concern about what they  perceived as violations of state and federal laws, as well as incidents of  "medical malpractice."  In late November, the plaintiffs filed amended complaints that go into  greater detail about the allegations: Signing blank narcotic prescriptions;  billing fraud; prescribing narcotics to patients confirmed to be "doctor  shopping" or who claimed their prescriptions were lost or stolen; prescribing 
narcotics to patients with addiction issues that may have led to their deaths;  and attempting to influence records from a county coroner"s office to hide  issues regarding a deceased patient, according to court documents. The doctors and Cavacini sought a court order to release them from  non-compete clauses they signed when they went to work for the Centers for Pain  Relief. They argued they were forced to leave in order to protect themselves  from liability "civil or criminal " and to protect their medical licenses. They also sued for defamation, claiming Hedrick bad-mouthed them to patients  after they left his clinics, as well as attempting to divert patients from a clinic where they now worked. Hedrick and the Centers for Pain Relief filed a counter-claim, asking a judge  for an injunction to prevent the doctors and Cavacini from operating their new  pain management clinic. A hearing on the injunction is set for early January before Allen Superior  Court Judge Stanley Levine. 

Rebecca S. Green of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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December 6, 2012  JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11 TV) -- Jeffersonville Pain Clinic Doctor License Suspended.     The security guard at the Clark County Wellness Center was not excited to see the WHAS11 crew again on Friday. Before photojournalist Dan Chesser and reporter Karma Dickerson could get out of the truck and ask if the clinic planned to comply with a city order to shut down, the clinic employee reached through the car window and threatened them.   The clinic did close at about 3 p.m., if not for good, at least for the day, and neighbors couldn't be happier. “Christmas has come early.  This is the best news we could ever, ever have hoped for,” Kelli Dattilo, a concerned neighbor, said. Since relocating from Kentucky in late July 2012, residents have watched the clinic closely, believing the doctor, Lea Marlow was over prescribing pain medication attracting vagrants and crime.  For months neighbors have complained to city officials, legislators, and law enforcement; as of Friday, all have taken action. “They have broken the concept of the grandfather rule, we have sent them a letter I actually had a police officer down here serving them”, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said.
The business had previously been allowed to operate because it opened before the city’s new zoning laws.  However, on Thursday the Indiana Medical Board suspended the license of Doctor Marlow, the clinic’s only physician, while the state attorney general investigates her for practices such as prescribing Oxycodone to 95 percent  of her patients.  According to Mayor Moore, Marlow’s suspension shows Clark County Welllness Center is an illegal business.  He says this voids the grandfather clause in the new zoning ordinance.  Enacted in October 2012, the ordinance forbids pain clinics from opening within 2,500 feet from residences, schools, parks, and churches.  Therefore on Friday, the City of Jeffersonville notified Clark County Wellness to cease operations.  A letter to the business and their landlord states that if the clinic is not closed in 15 business days, the City will begin assessing fines for operating in violation of zoning laws; proving to the residents, that perseverance pays off. 
“This is our neighborhood and we’re going to keep it a nice, peaceful, neighborhood”, resident Dan Christensen said. “Any community that really feels strongly in something can work together to make things better,” Datillo said.

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Dec 6, 2012  NYC doctor charged with manslaughter in OD deaths From ASSOCIATED PRESS 

A New York City doctor who wrote prescriptions for a man who killed four people in a pharmacy robbery was hit Thursday with manslaughter charges that accuse him of causing the overdose deaths of two patients. Dr. Stan Li already had been accused of prescribing prescription drugs to addicts. Li prescribed more than 500 pills to a 21-year-old man in the five weeks leading up the discovery of his body in a parked car in Queens in 2010, authorities said. The cause of death was acute intoxication caused by a combination of Xanax and oxycodone. Authorities said they believe it's the first time a physician has been charged in New York with manslaughter in an overdose death. Gregory P. MangoStan Xuhui Li was arraigned today in criminal court. "Dr. Li flouted the fundamental principle in medicine — first, do no harm," Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a statement announcing the indictment. Li, of Hamilton, N.J., was to appear in court later Thursday. There was no immediate response to a message left with his attorney. The 58-year-old Li has previously pleaded not guilty to peddling prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers from a Queens weekend clinic where he saw as many as 120 patients a day, moonlighting from his full-time job as an anesthesiologist at a New Jersey hospital. One of Li's patients, David Laffer, shot and killed two employees and two customers while holding up a Long Island pharmacy for painkillers in June 2011. Authorities have said that Li provided 24 prescriptions filled by Laffer. Laffer is serving a life sentence for murder. NEW YORK –  A doctor facing criminal charges of peddling painkiller prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers overlooked such warning signs as requests for early refills and state reports that patients were doctor-shopping for multiple prescriptions, state officials said in suspending his New York medical license.Dr. Stan Li also didn't properly explore the causes of the pain some patients claimed or appropriately address the fact that one had been repeatedly hospitalized for drug abuse and another had a drinking problem, according to allegations outlined Monday in a state Board for Professional Medical Conduct document obtained by The Associated Press. Li prescribed painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs to five patients "purportedly, but not in fact, in the good-faith practice of medicine and intended to deceive," a board lawyer wrote. Prosecutors have said at least 10 of Li's patients died of overdoses and another killed four people in a pharmacy robbery. Li's lawyer said Tuesday the physician would fight the allegations vigorously and was looking forward to defending himself. "We believe the charges to be without substance and to have been precipitously brought," attorney Raymond W. Belair wrote. "... He believes any fair-minded evaluation of his pain management practice will find that he acted in conformity with the proper practice of medicine." Li, 57, is barred from practicing in the state at least until a board committee hearing set for next month. The disciplinary charges add to the slate of allegations against Li, who pleaded not guilty in November to criminal charges of reckless endangerment and selling prescriptions. The lawyer who represented him at the time said he denied the allegations and had acted responsibly. Li saw as many as 120 patients a day at a Queens weekend clinic where people lined up in front of his door, and he wrote more than 17,000 prescriptions — mainly for oxycodone and other highly addictive painkillers — in the last 2 1/2 years, city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan's office said.  Investigators found some patients selling drugs right outside the clinic, and inside they found a sign setting out his fees, prosecutors said: $100 a visit for a "low-complexity" patient, or $150 for a "high-complexity" case, including someone seeing more than one doctor, someone seeking more than three prescriptions in one visit or someone with a history of drug abuse. Li took cash and sometimes billed government health programs for the visits, prosecutors said. Investigators also discovered at least 10 fatal overdoses among his patients, prosecutors said. One, Michael Cornetta, got prescriptions monthly from Li for oxycodone, the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam (sometimes sold under the trade name Xanax) and fentanyl, a potent pain medication that comes in the form of a patch, prosecutors said. Li went on prescribing the drugs even after Cornetta overdosed and was hospitalized in January 2010 and again that May, prosecutors said. An emergency room doctor called Li about the January overdose, they said. Cornetta was 40 when he died of a combination of fentanyl, anti-anxiety drugs and cocaine in November 2010, three months after getting his last prescription from Li, prosecutors said. Li also provided 24 prescriptions filled by David Laffer, who went on to kill four people during a Long Island pharmacy robbery in June, Newsday has reported. Laffer's wife, Melinda Brady, admitted driving the getaway car. He's serving a life sentence; she's serving 25 years. Li's former lawyer, Aaron M. Wallenstein, said the doctor had refused to keep treating Laffer, Brady and Cornetta. Li made use of a database designed to combat painkiller abuse by tracking patients who seek prescriptions from multiple doctors, Wallenstein said after the doctor's arrest.  Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor, has disputed that, however, and the state medical board allegations include repeatedly failing to deal appropriately with such information and not moving fast enough to cut off patients who appeared to be abusing the drugs. Li, certified as an anesthesiologist and a pain management specialist, has worked for a medical group that provides anesthesia at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, N.J. The hospital said in November it had suspended his clinical privileges. Originally from China, Li also is licensed in New Jersey, where no disciplinary actions against him appear in the State Board of Medical Examiners' online records. The agency declined to comment Tuesday. The allegations against Li come amid a federal probe into illegal painkiller sales and against the backdrop of two deadly episodes of gunfire at Long Island pharmacies. After Laffer's deadly spray of bullets, an off-duty federal agent was killed by friendly fire while trying to stop a robbery at another Long Island drugstore last month. The robber also was killed.


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December 5, 2012 FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv)  More doctors are under fire as several  around the state have been accused of over-prescribing causing the Attorney  General?s Office to take action. At least eight doctors are facing license suspensions for over-prescribing, with several cases involving deaths, according to the Indiana Attorney General's  Office.     *   _Digital  Daily  subscribe to our daily newsletter _ (http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/enews/signup)
The latest cases were filed on Monday, one involving Dr. William Hedrick, a Pain Management Specialist with the Centers for Pain Relief of Northern Indiana  located in Fort Wayne. Officials with the AG's Office say since January, they've filed numerous  licensing actions against physicians for overprescribing, some of which involve  deaths. With the rising number in cases, the AG's Office created the  Prescription Drug Task Force.  The task force is made up of state legislators, law enforcement, health  professionals and educators. Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah  McMahan is part of the local and statewide task forces. She says the task force's mission is to address legislation that may need improvement, educate  health care providers about proper prescribing habits, and educate and increase  awareness of prescription drugs to the public. "We wanted to create a primer for health care providers, really outlining the  best practices in terms of prescription narcotics," she said. Dr. McMahan says the increase in prescription drug abuse inside and outside the doctor?s office stems from a push that happened in the late 1990s. "We were too stingy with pain medications. We were afraid people would become  addicted and all sorts of issues. [They were] legitimate concerns that  physicians had, but the overall effect was they were not controlling patient's  pain. And so there became a really big push to start getting more liberal in  terms of being able to control pain for patients." She credits that push along with cultural changes, like self-diagnosis, for the problems doctors and patients are facing now. McMahan says doctors aren't  solely to blame. "We've become, in general, more of an unhealthy country in terms of more  people being over weight, being out of shape and more prone to injure themselves  to have chronic pain. So you've got the perfect storm of being really encouraged  to be more generous with pain medication and a population of people who are  finding more and more that they need it." She went on to say, "in America, we don't expect to have any discomfort. We expect to be asymptomatic. There must certainly be a pill, whether it's acid  reflux or back pain, there must be something that can make me feel better. So I  really think it's multi-factorial." But in some cases, McMahan admits it's just a common mistake. She believes  some physicians are over zealous in the amount they prescribe, but it can also  be pressure from the patient. McMahan says sometimes it can be the combination  of prescriptions that can pose a threat. "It just kind of gradually occurs. You try this, and this, and this, and this  and things can escalate before either of you can realize it," she said. McMahan believes that people need to be more responsible overall, and that  maybe prescription medication isn't always the best choice for treatment. "We need to take a step back and think about what is realistic in terms of  controlling pain, and is it really pain that we're trying to control or should  we really be trying to preserve function?? she said. "If someone is going to be  overweight and sedentary, they're probably going to be having some issues that  may not ever be completely eradicated." The Prescription Drug Task Force's first plan of attack is to discuss a new pain management system for doctors to help minimize the risk to patients at a  statewide symposium Dec. 19. Then, Dr. McMahan says, they'll focus on public  awareness and attempt to change the cultural perspective surrounding pain and  how to deal with it.

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December 5, 2013 Maine  doctor pleads guilty to prescription charges _ 
(http://www.pressherald.com/news/Maine-doctor-pleads-guilty-to-prescription-charges-.html
Dr. John Perry of Bridgton pleads guilty to multiple charges including conspiracy to distribute drugs, health care fraud and illegal distribution of  oxycodone.  The Associated Press PORTLAND  A Maine foot doctor has pleaded guilty to writing  prescriptions for painkillers in exchange for cash and cocaine.  Dr. John Perry of Bridgton pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland to multiple charges including conspiracy to distribute drugs, health  care fraud and illegal distribution of oxycodone. The plea was part of a deal in  which prosecutors agreed to seek a 10-year prison sentence. The judge is not  obligated to follow that recommendation. Authorities say between June 2009 and October 2010, the podiatrist with  offices in Portland wrote numerous prescriptions for oxycodone pills for a group  of drug traffickers from Connecticut. The traffickers paid Perry for the prescriptions with cash and cocaine. The Bangor Daily News reports that Perry blamed his crimes on addiction and mental illness.

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December 5, 2012   Mt. Vernon, NY  doctor, Mahopac man charged in prescription drug scheme

By KEN SCHACHTER  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Dr. Arnold  Roth, 60, and Nidal Aljamal, 37, are accused of amassing 8,823  30-milligram pills  with a street value of about $264,690 from July 2011 to July  2012.  A Mount Vernon doctor and a Mahopac man were charged Wednesday  with  hatching a scheme to sell prescription oxycodone pills with a street value  of almost half a million dollars, state Attorney General _Eric  Schneiderman_ said. Investigators Wednesday morning arrested anesthesiologist Dr. Arnold Roth,  60, after searching his residence and professional offices at 35 Central Parkway  in Mount Vernon, and Nidal Aljamal, 37, of Mahopac, charging that the two  amassed 8,823 30-milligram pills with a street value of about $264,690 from July  2011 to July 2012. Investigators said Roth also wrote 48 prescriptions for Aljamal as well as prescriptions for 6,210 pills with a street value of $186,300 for three other  people. Those pills were dispensed from September 2011 to August 2012 and were  turned over to Aljamal for distribution, officials said.  
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Roth has been charged with 11 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies. He faces up to  5 1/2 years in prison if convicted. Aljamal is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony, and faces up to nine years in prison if convicted. 
Both Nadal and Roth appeared yesterday before Town of Hyde Park Justice John  M. Kennedy and had bail set at $10,000 cash or $30,000 bond. Both were 
ordered  to surrender passports. A woman answering the phone at Dr. Roth's home yesterday evening declined to  comment. A man identifying himself as Aljamal's father declined to  comment.

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December 4, 2012  Pompano Beach, FL  Pompano Beach pain clinic doctor accused of racketeering and drug  trafficking

December 4, 2012|By  Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel, By _Erika Pesantes_ 
(http://bio.tribune.com/ErikaPesantes) , Sun  Sentinel

A Pompano Beach pain clinic doctor arrested on prescription drug trafficking  and racketeering charges is accused of writing about 24,000 prescriptions in a  single year, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest warrant.  Dr. Donald Willems, 36, of Weston, was the primary physician at Pompano  Beach  Pain Management, which was shut down over the summer for operating as a 
pill  mill.  Willems was ordered held in lieu of $50,000 bail during his hearing in first  appearance court Tuesday. He was arrested Monday. Two overdose deaths were tied to prescriptions from the clinic at 1341 S.  Powerline Road, authorities said. The pain clinic's owners, Frank and Berenice  Turturo, were arrested in June on more than a dozen racketeering and  prescription drug trafficking charges.  Detectives said they had gathered intelligence that suggested the couple also  had ties to organized crime.  Willems is accused of consistently prescribing a combination of oxycodone,  
alprazolam (Xanax) and noncontrolled drugs such as ibuprofen and Vitamin D to  patients during his April 2011 to April 2012 stint at the clinic.  According to records, Willems wrote 24,011 prescriptions in the year that he  worked at the Pompano Beach pain clinic. That amounts to about 65 prescriptions  doled out each day, and 1.3 million dosage units of oxycodone-related products  alone, the warrant said.  Those numbers do not include suspected prescriptions filled by at least 
half  a dozen out-of-state mail order pharmacies that were used in a "program"  developed by the Turturos to provide patients with a prescription drug source at  inflated prices, investigators said. 
"This scheme would not have been successful without the aggressive writing of  high doses of controlled substances by Willems," the arrest warrant stated. According to the warrant, Willems confessed to writing and signing  prescription slips without examining patients, slips that would then be  completed in his absence by Berenice Turturo. During the June raid, detectives  
discovered 85 such slips. During an interview with Drug Enforcement Administration detectives, 
Willems  reportedly called his actions "incredibly stupid." He said he trusted the Turturos to "do the right thing," the arrest affidavit said. According to financial records obtained by the Sheriff's Office, Frank  Turturo paid Willems approximately $300,000 in just over a year for his work at the pain clinic. He got the job after replying to a Craigslist posting.  On Tuesday, Willems' teary-eyed wife, Patricia Willems was in court to  support him, along with his mother, father-in-law and brother-in-law. She  declined to comment.

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Nov 21, 2012

More Than 70 Physicians Linked to Numerous Prescription Drug  Deaths in Southern California Filed under _Substance  Abuse_ 
A review of the coroner's records reveals that a small number of doctors are  involved in many _prescription drug  deaths_ in Southern California.  According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times,  seventy-one physicians   0.1% of all practicing doctors in the four counties  wrote prescriptions for drugs that caused or contributed to 298 deaths.    Each of  these doctors prescribed drugs to three or more patients who died. Four of the  doctors had ten or more patients who fatally overdosed. The L.A. Times evaluated cause-of-death findings, toxicology reports and  other information in county coroners files, including lists of prescription  medications found at death scenes. They found that between 2006 and 2011, there  were a total of 3,733 _deaths  from prescription drugs in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego  counties. In 1,762 of those cases, those who died had a doctor's prescription  for at least one drug that solely caused or contributed to their deaths.  "The data you have is something that's going to shock everybody," said Dr. Jorge F. Carreon, a former member of the Medical Board of California. He added  that the newspaper's analysis showed a few doctors involvement to the increase in fatal overdose  was "worse than what I thought."   The seventy-one doctors with three or more fatal overdoses among their  patients are primarily pain specialists, general practitioners and  psychiatrists. Most of them work alone, without the scrutiny of peers. Four have  been convicted of drug offenses in connection with their prescriptions. Another  one is awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder in the overdose deaths  of three patients. The other doctors do not have criminal prosecution over their practice of  medicine, and most have clean records with the Medical Board of California. Some of the seventy-one doctors blamed overdose victims for causing their own  deaths by ignoring instructions on the safe use of medications. Some of them  pointed out that family members should be held responsible too for failing to  intervene, and some faulted health insurers, saying that reduced payments to  physicians have made it difficult to spend the time to monitor patients  adequately.  The 298 patients who died of overdoses are aged between 21 and 79. Many had histories of mental illness or addiction, including previous overdoses or stints  in _drug  treatment_. Others did not start-out as high-risk patients.

 

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Nov 2, 2012 LAKE CITY, Fla. (AP) ? A north  Florida doctor is going to prison on Medicaid fraud and prescription drug  charges in a pill mill case. 
Circuit Judge _Leandra  Johnson   gave 68-year-old Dr. Young Am Park a two-year sentence this week in Lake City.  Pill mills utilize illegal  prescriptions to supply narcotics to addicts and drug dealers.  Park was accused of prescribing  controlled substances such as the painkiller oxycodone outside the course of his  professional practice in the case that centered on a now-defunct _Jasper  hospital_ 
Investigators discovered  Medicaid was paying for many of the illegal prescriptions. Attorney General _Pam  Bondi's office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement participated in  the investigation with local law enforcement agencies and  prosecutors.

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Nov 1, 2012  Doctor sentenced to 13 months in drug case

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) ? A Columbus doctor has been sentenced to 13 months in  federal prison on three counts of distributing narcotics.
Dr. _Mark  Burtman was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Oxford. Burtman was charged with  illegally distributing prescription painkillers. 
He pleaded guilty to the three  counts on June 28.  In addition to the prison time,  he must pay more than $50,000 in fines and forfeit his home in Columbus. 
The charges stem from an  eight-month investigation that ended in June 2011 with a raid by federal, state  and local authorities on his Columbus 
office. He faced as much as 35 years in  prison and more than $1.75 million in fines. 
Prosecutors say Burtman is to  being serving his sentence on Jan. 7, 2013. 
Burtman has surrendered his  medical license.

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Oct 25, 2012 TRENTON , NJ     A doctor from Morrisville pleaded guilty to charges that he sold  prescription painkillers to a drug dealer and created fraudulent medical  
records, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced  Wednesday.  William C. Kropinicki, 59, of Morrisville, who formerly practiced in  
Lawrence, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier to all  the charges in the indictment against him, including second-degree 
conspiracy;  second-degree distribution of oxycodone, sold under the brand name Percocet;  third-degree obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud; and  
fourth-degree falsification or alteration of records related to medical care.  The investigation of Kropinicki and his co-defendant, Carl Hames, 48, of  
Trenton, began in 2008 after a Bordentown City pharmacy alerted police about the  suspicious prescriptions.  Hames was arrested following a vehicle stop by a Bordentown City police officer. A bag containing more than 800 Percocet pills was seized from the vehicle.  'Narcotic painkillers such as Percocet are addictive and deadly, with roughly  40 people dying from them each day in the United States," Chiesa said.  "It is  shocking that a doctor who is bound by oath and professional ethics 
to heal and  not harm would profit by knowingly supplying a drug dealer with addictive  painkillers.   "This guilty plea should send a strong message to any doctors who think that  prescription forms are blank checks that they can use to turn a profit by indiscriminately prescribing dangerous narcotics," he said. Authorities said that on Aug. 12, 2008, Hames went to Kropinicki's medical  office, paid him for eight prescriptions of Percocet, and gave the doctor eight  names. Hames paid $100 for each prescription for 120 pills. Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions and then created false medical  records for the eight names, indicating he had physically examined the 
patients,  according to authorities. Hames told investigators that he frequently obtained illegal prescriptions  for Percocet from Kropinicki in that fashion. Hames was arrested on the same day  that Kropinicki wrote the eight prescriptions.  In May 2010, Hames pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of possession of  Percocet with the intent to distribute and a third-degree charge of possession  of Percocet with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school  property.  Further investigation by the state's Division of Criminal Justice and the  Division of Consumer Affairs' Enforcement Bureau established that Kropinicki had  conspired with Hames since at least the start of 2008 to write prescriptions for  Percocet for people he never treated or examined.  The State Board of Medical Examiners revoked Kropinicki's license to 
practice  medicine in New Jersey in 2008 after the Enforcement Bureau filed an action  against his license based on his illegal writing of Percocet prescriptions. 
Kropinicki will be sentenced Dec. 7.   Under New Jersey law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10  years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.

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Oct 22, 2012 HOUSTON     DEA agents raided nearly a dozen pharmacies and clinics Monday they suspected were operating as illegal prescription drug mills in southwest  
Houston. The DEA, along with Houston and Conroe police, Harris County Sheriff?s  deputies and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers conducted the sting at  
the offices simultaneously around 10:15 a.m. Most of the businesses  which were all within a one-block area were located  in mid-rises along the 9800 block of Bissonet, according to police. DEA agents finally said enough was enough.  "It's a problem in this area and people have complained before," said Asac Tony Scott, with the DEA. "There have been numerous articles written about the  problems in the Bissonet area on illegal pain clinics operating. So it is our  effort, along with our state and local partners to try and answer some of the  problems that our citizens are complaining about.  Agents said it was a significant bust: they raided nearly 12 businesses, and  confiscated records and other materials.

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Oct 18, 2012 Vt. doctor pleads guilty to prescription fraud

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP)  A Burlington, Vt., doctor has pleaded guilty to one felony count of prescription fraud. The attorney general says Dr. Cynthia Haselton was accused of writing  prescriptions for the stimulant drug Adderall to non-existent patients and then getting the prescriptions filled at pharmacies in Chittenden and Addison  
counties while she was a doctor at Primary Care Health Partners in  Burlington. Authorities say the alleged fraud took place between 2004 and 2007 and  involved 288 prescriptions. On Thursday, Haselton of Colchester received a four-year deferred sentence and was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and undergo drug  
treatment and testing. If she violates any conditions of probation the state can bring additional charges for any criminal conduct.  Haselton license to practice is currently inactive.

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Oct 17, 2012 Los Gatos, California doctor faces drug charges
SANTA CLARA COUNTY  Henry K. Lee
A pediatrician who served until recently as a top administrator of Santa  Clara County's health plan has been arrested and charged with numerous felonies  for allegedly writing prescriptions for addictive drugs like OxyContin to  convicted drug offenders in exchange for cash and methamphetamine, authorities  said Wednesday. Dr. _Marvin  Bonham , 61, of Los Gatos, former medical director of the Valley Health Plan,  _Health  and Hospital System, of Santa Clara County, wrote a "substantial number of  prescriptions for major 
drugs of abuse" to 29 people in less than two years,  prosecutors said. More than half of them had criminal histories, including  arrests for drug use or sales, prosecutors said. 
"Doctors are supposed to care for the health of their patients, not to  recklessly give them access to powerful, addictive drugs," said supervising  Deputy District Attorney _James  Sibley.  Bonham also offered marijuana and methamphetamine to minors, authorities  said. A county task force began investigating Bonham after receiving a number of  
unusual police reports involving the doctor, his car, his home and a storage  facility where he rents a unit, investigators said.  In one case, Bonham filed a false police report claiming that his prescription pad had been stolen from his unlocked car parked at the Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, authorities said.  A search of Bonham's hillside home on Shannon Road uncovered weapons,  methamphetamine, marijuana and ecstasy, Sibley said. Investigators also found an alleged marijuana "grow room" in a crawl space underneath the residence.  Authorities said "substantial quantities" of drying marijuana were hanging in  the garage, and the home was littered with burnt foil and hollowed pens 
that  appeared to have been used to smoke drugs.  Bonham, who specializes in pediatric care, worked for Santa Clara County for  nearly five years but left Oct. 10, said county spokeswoman _Laurel  Anderson . She declined to elaborate. Bonham served in an administrative role as medical director of a county-run health care system that includes the public health and mental health departments  and its flagship hospital, _Santa  Clara Valley Medical Center_  in San Jose. Bonham received his medical license from the state of California in 1979  after graduating from the Tulane _University School of Medicine.  He has no record of disciplinary action, according to the _Medical  Board of California . 
Bonham is free on $1 million bail. He could not be reached for comment. He is to appear Thursday in _Superior  Court_ in San Jose on 18 felonies, including possession of 
methamphetamine  and marijuana for sale, prescribing without legitimate medical purpose,  prescribing to addicts and possession of psilocybin mushrooms and ecstasy. 
Prosecutors also charged Bonham's roommate, _James  Schneider_ , 32, with three drug-related felonies. 
_Henry  K. Lee_

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Oct 8, 2012 Pain doctor faces three new manslaughter charges, but prosecutors drop another
3:42 PM, Oct 8, 2012 | by _Tony  Leys_ 

Prosecutors today added three more counts of  involuntary manslaughter against a Des Moines pain-relief doctor, but withdrew  one of the eight counts 
they filed against him last month. Dr. Daniel Baldi, 50, used to help run a pain-medicine clinic near Iowa  Lutheran Hospital. Prosecutors say he caused patient overdose deaths by  recklessly prescribing narcotic drugs, including to people who showed clear  signs of addiction. Baldi has denied the allegations.  The Polk County attorney's office filed eight involuntary-manslaughter  charges against Baldi last month. The charges are aggravated misdemeanors, each of which could carry a sentence of two years in prison if the doctor is  convicted.  Prosecutors today filed charges in three additional cases. Court papers  identify the three patients as Jeffrey Johnson, who died May 26, 2012; Loretta 
Fae Brown, who died July 20, 2011; and Kim Krutsinger, who died Spt. 11, 2011.  Prosecutors dropped a charge involving the Aug. 21, 2009, death of Jeff Lilly,  because the statute of limitations said the case was too old to be prosecuted. The patients ages and hometowns weren't listed in court papers.  The other seven deaths still being prosecuted include the 2010 overdose death  of Paul Gray, the bass player for the internationally known heavy metal band  Slipknot.  Baldi, 50, also faces several malpractice lawsuits, plus possible license  suspension by state regulators. His lawyer, Guy Cook, entered a not-guilty plea  on his behalf today. After the brief court hearing, Cook reiterated that his client denies  wrongdoing. 'Dr. Baldi isn't just presumed innocent, he is innocent," Cook  said. The lawyer added that this is the first time in Iowa history that a doctor faces such criminal charges under these kinds of circumstances. He said the new  charges, like several of the previous ones, involved patients whom Baldi treated  only briefly. Prosecutors face a high bar in proving that Baldi recklessly  caused the deaths, Cook said. "It?s not enough that they can say that a person  passed away after being a patient of the doctor, he 
said. Baldi remains free on bond.

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September 18, 2012 Bloomington pain doctor sentenced for health fraud, drug distribution charges 

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA  — The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Kamal Tiwari, age 60, of Bloomington, was sentenced this morning to 42 months (3 years, 6 months) in federal prison by District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,299,866.54. This follows Tiwari’s admission of guilt to charges of health care fraud and unlawful drug distribution in March of this year.

“Today’s sentencing holds accountable someone who betrayed both his profession and the trust of his patients, endangering lives and defrauding taxpayers of more than a million dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett. “While we argued this morning in favor of sentence that we believe was befitting of the crimes committed, we respect the Judge Barker’s decision and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make whole the victims of Mr. Tiwari’s actions.”

Tiwari was a medical doctor who specialized in anesthesiology in the Bloomington area, and he possessed a federal Drug Enforcement Administration license to prescribe controlled substances. In the late 1990’s, Dr. Tiwari began to focus his medical practice in “interventional pain management,” a specialty of medicine which includes a wide variety of therapies, often involving combinations of injection procedures and opioids.

Dr. Tiwari’s practice was based out of two Bloomington businesses: the Pain Management Center of Southern Indiana, and the Pain Management & Surgery Center of Southern Indiana, Inc. Patients were examined at the Pain Management Center, and then procedures were performed at the Surgery Center. Both businesses shared the same office suite.

Almost all health insurers, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Anthem, require that health care services be “medically necessary” in order to be reimbursed. From January 2007 through December 2007, Dr. Tiwari now admits that he engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid, Medicare, and Anthem by performing numerous medical procedures on patients that were not medically necessary, including such injection procedures as facet blocks, epidurals, and radiofrequency ablations.

These procedures both exceeded the standard of care in interventional pain medicine practice and also carried risks such as serious infection, as well as other side effects, from an excess amount of steroids. Dr.Tiwari has admitted that all of this was done for the purpose of increasing the revenue of his medical practice.

In addition, as a component of this scheme to defraud, Dr. Tiwari plead guilty to providing certain patients opioid prescriptions that exceeded any legitimate purpose. These prescriptions included such drugs as Percocet, Oxycontin, oxycodone, and methadone. These drugs, along with the excess steroids from the unnecessary procedures, caused some patients serious bodily injury.

“The epidemic problem of prescription drug abuse begins with overprescribing and ends by exacting a huge toll on our society,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) participated with federal authorities in the investigation of Tiwari. “Actions against physicians who abuse their position of trust are part of the solution to this problem, along with public education and treatment of drug addiction,"

The total amount of money that Dr. Tiwari earned from these medically unnecessary procedures in 2007 from Medicaid, Medicare, and Anthem patients amounted to $1,299,866.54, all of which must be repaid.

This case was the result of significant effort on the part of the prosecution team from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that included Assistant U.S. Attorneys Winfield D. Ong, Bradley P. Shepard, and Shelese M. Woods. The resolution of this case comes as part of the United States Attorney’s Office’s effort to focus on combating fraud and waste in Indiana.

The charges brought against Dr. Tiwari stemmed from an extensive investigation by the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Indiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Office of the Indiana Attorney General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

September 18, 2012 Bloomington man sentenced for health fraud, drug distribution charges

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Ex-W.Va. doc faces sentencing in pill mill probe  9/17/12
(http://media.graytvinc.com/images/gavel+generic+court.jpg) <a CHARLESTON,  W.Va. (AP) - A former West Virginia doctor is seeking probation after her guilty  plea for negligently prescribing pain pills. Diane Shafer is citing how she  surrendered her medical license and cooperated with prosecutors ahead of her  Tuesday sentencing in U.S. District Court. The 60-year-old pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to misuse a federal drug  registration number. The longtime Mingo County physician admits she prescribed  pain and anti-anxiety pills to people she did not examine.  Shafer left pre-signed prescription slips at her Williamson office for staff  to hand out. Prosecutors say that helped her issue more controlled substance  prescriptions between 2003 and early 2010 than some West Virginia hospitals.  Shafer had prior run-ins with state licensing boards. She pleaded guilty  shortly after losing the Republican primary for a House of Delegates  seat.

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Physician Sentenced to 5 Years for Trying to Help a Patient, Says AAPSTUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A casualty in the “War on Drugs” that has become a war on physicians, 52-year-old family physician John Anthony Gianoli, III, has been sentenced to 5 years (60 months) in federal prison for writing prescriptions for a controlled pain medication, although his sole intention was to help a patient. Dr. Gianoli ran a small medical office in Florida. It was not a “pill mill” by any stretch of the imagination. He frequently used alternate methods such as yoga to treat pain, and was often able to wean patients off addicting medicines–as he did in the case of the undercover agent who was sent by the government to entrap him. The agent posed as a patient, with fake medical records and stories that could fool even the most skeptical physician. At trial the prosecution relied on tape recordings of only some of the visits between its fake patient and Dr. Gianoli. Even though the undercover agent had a recording device for his initial encounter with Dr. Gianoli, no recording for that all-important visit was ever made. It was alleged that no physical examination was performed, although one was documented in the medical record for that visit. Perhaps for special effect with a future jury, the undercover agent even “sexed up” one of his conversations with the physician for the recording, by stating he gave some pills to his girlfriend in exchange for sex. This type of false sexual claim can obviously cloud and prejudice a jury’s later consideration of the case, as it listens to the tape recording. Dr. Gianoli testified at trial that he never believed that his medications were being diverted to someone else, and he did not receive any additional compensation for his prescribing oxycodone. He had even discharged the fake patient from his practice before he became aware it was all a ruse for prosecution. The jury acquitted Dr. Gianoli on two counts of illegally prescribing medication, and convicted him on only one of five counts. But the Court handed down the draconian 5-year sentence anyway, and the prosecutor asked for much more. If there were a real concern about prescriptions written by Dr. Gianoli or any other physician, then the DEA can easily revoke his authority to prescribe controlled substances, without wasting millions of dollars in taxpayer money on sting operations, trials, and lengthy sentences of good physicians who serve the public. In the last 40 years the number of people imprisoned in the United States has grown by a shocking 700%, at a direct cost of more than $50 billion annually and a much higher indirect expense, with no discernible reduction in drug abuse. The government apparently prefers targeting physicians to pursuing real drug dealers.

 

“Abusive prosecutions like this one send the message that it is too dangerous to prescribe oxycodone or other controlled drugs,” states Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). “Any patient, however compelling his story, could turn out to be a federal plant.”

 

Dr. Gianoli loses his freedom, his ability to practice his vocation, his livelihood, his life savings, and his reputation. His patients lose a caring physician, and patients throughout the country may be sentenced to a lifetime of unremitting though treatable pain because physicians fear to prescribe for them.

 

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, (www.aapsonline.org) which was founded in 1943 to defend the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship.

 

SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

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85 year old psychiatrist pleads guilty to dealing drugs  Sept 14, 2012

A psychiatrist pleaded guilty to illegally selling hundreds of Oxycodone  
prescriptions from her Wayne office in 2011, the U.S. Attorney Paul J. 
Fishman  announced on Friday. 
Priscilla Ilem, 85, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas 
in Camden federal court Friday on a charge of distributing Oxycodone 
without a  legitimate medial purpose and outside the usual course of professional 
practice.  She _was  charged_ 
(http://wayne.patch.com/articles/wayne-psychiatrist-84-arrested-charged-with-writing-illegal-prescriptions)  in August of 
2011. 
Ilem admitted that she prescribed Oxycodone at intervals inconsistent with  
legitimate medical treatment, the attorney?s office said in a statement. 
She  affirmed that, in her medical opinion, there was an absence of a logical  
relationship between the Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, she 
prescribed and her patients? alleged conditions. 
Wayne Police and the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) discovered 
nearly  300 prescriptions for 238 patients Ilem wrote were filled at a local 
Walgreens  in June and July of 2011. 
The criminal complaint against Ilem states she unlawfully prescribed  
Oxycodone to confidential sources working with the DEA. After office visits that  
lasted an average of just 10 minutes, and which involved no physical 
examination  or testing, Ilem charged patients a cash fee of $200 and provided a 
prescription  slip for drugs, the complaint states. 
Authorities said last August that Ilem was aware she was under 
investigation.  She told police she was concerned that someone was using her name to 
write  prescriptions. DEA special agent Douglas Collier said last August. 
Collier said Ilem made the call in an attempt to cover her tracks. 
Distribution of such a Schedule II substance carries a maximum potential  
penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. 
As part of her guilty plea, Ilem agreed to forfeit $500,000 in illegal  
proceeds she received to the federal government. 
Ilem taught at West Point Military Academy for several years and served in  
the U.S. Army Reserves for 17 years. 
Ilem is scheduled to be sentenced later this year. 
? Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Plymouth Michigan Doctor Charged Drug Dealing Sept 14, 2012

An indictment was unsealed Friday charging Dr. Mikhayl  Soliman, 59, of Plymouth, with Medicare fraud and distribution of prescription drugs, U.S. 
Attorney Barbara  L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Detroit Field Division; 
Special Agent in Charge, Robert D. Foley III, Federal Bureau of Investigation;  Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, Health and Human Services, Office 
of  Inspector General; and Wayne Police Chief Jason Wright. The ten-count indictment charges that between 2007 and 2012, Soliman billed Medicare for services not rendered and distributed controlled substances outside  the course of usual medical practice and for no legitimate purpose. During that  time, Soliman billed Medicare for approximately $4,155,565 in claims. The  majority of the claims were for physician home visits that were purportedly  provided when Soliman was not present in the home, as required by Medicare.  Soliman is also charged with providing prescriptions for OxyContin, Vicodin, and  other pharmaceutical narcotics in exchange for cash payments outside the course  of usual medical practice and for no legitimate purpose. ?Medicare is intended to provide health care funds for our most vulnerable  citizens,? McQuade said. ?Doctors and other providers who steal taxpayer money  by cheating the Medicare program will be prosecuted.? 
Corso called the arrest ?another example of the DEA's determination to combat  the troubling prescription drug abuse problem in this country.? ?Soliman abused his position of trust and jeopardized the lives of many  individuals by illegally distributing highly addictive opiate painkillers,?  Corso said. ?Today's arrest makes it clear that the DEA and our partners in law  enforcement will continue to investigate and bring to justice those individuals  that are responsible for the illegal distribution of prescription  medicines.? Soliman was arrested Friday and appeared in federal court Friday for his  arraignment.

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Doctor and Activist Disciplined by KY Medical Board    Sept 12, 2012 

Frank Simon, a Louisville doctor and conservative  political activist, has been disciplined by the Kentucky Board of Medical  Licensure for allegedly 
abusing his prescription  privileges. Simon " an allergy, immunology and internal medicine  doctor " is accused of prescribing excessive amounts of  drugs without proper documentation of justification. The board issued an agreed order Friday that restricts  Simon's right to prescribe controlled substances until he completes training on  professional standards and record-keeping and submits to further reviews. Simon has been a conservative activist in state  politics, heading up the 
American Family Association before merging it with the  Tea Party of Kentucky. He is an outspoken opponent of gay rights and abortion,  and has called on 
elected leaders to "take control of our country and bring it  back to God."An employee at Simon?s practice said he was not  immediately available for 
comment Tuesday. According to the order, the  investigation started in September 2011 when the Drug Enforcement Administration  reported concerns to the board that Simon was prescribing large amounts of  hydrocodone and other drugs for pain management. Simon reportedly told investigators that he sees more  than 11,000 patients and has not been able to refer patients to pain specialists  because other physicians fear investigations from the board. He also provided a  list of 150 patients who were dismissed after drug history reviews and other screening methods.  Still, investigators said electronic drug records  raised red flags. 
The board subpoenaed 21 patient charts, and a  consultant concluded that Simon departed standard medical practices by  "prescribing large quantities of 
controlled substances, specifically opioid  analgesics, stimulants and benzodiazepines ... without clearly documented  justification for persistent use.
The consultant also found that the patient's history  used to determine risk for drug abuse or diversion  was often inappropriately  brief, incomplete or absent. 
Friday's order stipulates that at least one additional  consultant review is necessary before the board can consider lifting the  restrictions. If granted, Simon must maintain a controlled-substances log for  periodic review. Simon also must pay for the consultant reviews and  reimburse the board for $2,000 of investigation expenses, the order said.
Reporter Mike Wynn can be reached at (502)  875-5136.

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Pain Doc Sued For Killing Miss Iowa Contestant

September 5, 2012

Two Des Moines families are suing a pain-treatment doctor, saying his carelessness led to their loved ones’ drug overdose deaths. The families recently filed suit against Dr. Daniel Baldi, a pain-medicine specialist who already settled another wrongful-death lawsuit and whose state medical license could be in jeopardy. Baldi helped run an Iowa Health System pain clinic that was closed without explanation in June.

Baldi’s lawyer said the doctor saw each of the two patients just once and did his best to treat them properly.

One of the new lawsuits was filed last week by the family of Brandy Stoutenberg, 24, of Des Moines, who died in 2010. The suit says that Stoutenberg went to Baldi for treatment of minor pain, and that he gave her Dilaudid and other medications. The suit says she died of an overdose.

Stoutenberg’s obituary said she was a registered nurse and aspiring model whose survivors included a daughter, Emina. The obituary said that Stoutenberg was engaged to be married and that she had recently been accepted as a Miss Iowa contestant.

The other new lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the family of Fred Pritchard, 50, who died in May 2011. The lawsuit says Baldi was “grossly negligent” in prescribing 120 hydrocodone pills to Pritchard without properly examining him or checking into his medical history.

Baldi’s lawyer, Guy Cook, said the fact that a person died with drugs in his or her system does not mean the person’s physician was necessarily to blame.

“Dr. Baldi did his best to treat all his patients, including these two patients, who he saw on only one occasion each,” Cook said.

Cook said most of Baldi’s patients were people with chronic, severe pain whom other doctors referred to the specialized clinic. The lawyer said he didn’t know why the Stoutenberg lawsuit would allege that she had only minor pain. The lawsuit also says Baldi “handed out pain medications” to Stoutenberg. Cook said the doctor prescribed drugs, but didn’t hand them out. The lawyer said the doctor is not currently practicing medicine.

Both lawsuits are filed against Baldi and companies related to Iowa Health System.

Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics, which owned the clinic near Iowa Lutheran Hospital, declined to comment on the lawsuits. The company announced in May that it would close the clinic at the end of June. Iowa Health never explained why it shuttered the clinic, but it has said it helped the clinic’s 1,800 patients seek new doctors. Several patients have said they struggled to find physicians willing to take on their complicated cases.

The clinic was one of just a handful in central Iowa that specialized in the treatment of chronic pain. The closure comes amid increasing national attention to abuse of prescription narcotics, which has led some physicians to shy away from treating long-term pain patients.

Iowa Health officials said in June that they had suspended Baldi from his job. Last month, the Iowa Board of Medicine filed administrative charges against Baldi, which could lead to a suspension of his license.

The board said Baldi “indiscriminately or promiscuously prescribed, administered or dispensed drugs for other than a lawful purpose.” It also said he failed to take or document proper action to assess patients’ need for the drugs, monitor them for abuse or take action when they violated agreements to take the medications properly.

Baldi already has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit. In that case, the family of Kathleen Cronkwright, 63, of Forest City said Baldi mistakenly prescribed a massive overdose of narcotics, which was administered through a medication pump in Cronkwright’s body in 2010. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum in June.

Another malpractice lawsuit is pending. In that case, Stephanie Mitts of Ottumwa said Baldi botched the placement of a catheter he installed with a pain medication pump in her back last year.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/201209...


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Aug 16, 2012  Pompano Beach Medical Clinic owner arrested in pill mill bust DEA: Doctors gave pain medication prescriptions to  patients who didn't 
need them
 
Arrests made in Broward pill mill  bust  POMPANO BEACH, Fla. -  
Drug Enforcement  Administration agents and Broward County Sheriff's deputies busted a suspected  pill mill in Pompano Beach on Thursday morning. 
The bust happened at the  Pompano Beach Medical Clinic on Sample Road.  Police said doctors at the clinic  were handing out pain medication prescriptions to patients who didn't need  them. "We've been continuously  making undercover buys," said Kevin Stanfill with the DEA. "As we make some buys  from a doctor, then you'd have a new doctor come in. These doctors kind of came  in and out, so once you had some evidence on one, a new one would come. As long  as they were producing doctors that were going to distribute oxycodone without a  legitimate purpose, we were going to continue to buy." 
The owner of the clinic  was arrested and a few employees were detained.  Investigators also went  after all the doctors who currently work or have worked at the clinic. The DEA  even travelled to New York and Chicago to pick up a few of the doctors.  Investigators said the  clinic is part 'Operation Pill Nation,' but the 
owner of Pompano Beach Medical  Clinic didn't agree.  "There's a lot of people  who are going to suffer," said the owner. 
The DEA expects to have up  to 16 people in custody by the end of Thursday. 

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Aug 15, 2012 Florida (Medscape Medical News) 

Subscribe to medscape at www.medscape.org

August 15, 2012 — The legal problems of 2 Florida physicians accused last year of participating in a massive painkiller "pill mill" deepened last month     when federal prosecutors charged them with the overdose deaths of 9 patients. Those deaths, prosecutors say, are part of a much higher body count in a criminal operation that attracted drug addicts and traffickers from all over the     Eastern United States. The 2 physicians, Cynthia Cadet, MD, and Joseph Castronuovo, MD, were among 13 physicians and 19 nonphysicians originally indicted on     lesser charges in a federal court in Miami, Florida, in August 2011. Of the 13 physicians, 10 eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money     laundering or conspiracy to commit wire fraud. An eleventh indicted physician, Irwin Beretsky, MD, died last October at the age of 77 years while awaiting     trial. All 13 physicians initially pleaded not guilty, and Drs. Cadet and Castronuovo are the only ones maintaining their original pleas. The 2 physicians also     have pleaded not guilty to the new charge of dispensing a controlled substance for illegitimate purposes that leads to the death of a patient, which is     punishable by life in prison. Their lawyers contend that federal prosecutors have drummed up the new charges to punish them for not pleading guilty like     the others. "I think it's a vindictive process," said Michael Weinstein, Dr. Cadet's attorney, in an interview with Medscape Medical News.  A fourteenth physician who allegedly participated in the pill-mill operation was charged in a state court with first-degree murder in an overdose death.     That physician, Gerald J. Klein, MD, is awaiting trial.  When the 14 physicians and the 19 nonphysicians were originally indicted last year in federal and state courts, an FBI agent described them as "the     nation's largest criminal organization" involved in illegally distributing oxycodone and other opioid analgesics.

Garbage Bags Full of Cash

As in other recent cases of criminal medicine, including Medicare fraud, the 14 physicians in the South Florida pill mill did not run the show, but     answered to nonphysicians, according to prosecutors. The bosses, convicted felon Christopher George and his twin brother Jeffrey George, operated a string of pain-medicine clinics and hauled in more than $40     million from illegal drug sales over one 2-year span. Most of the patients hailed from other states, descending on Florida because it lacked a prescription     drug-monitoring program during the period covered by the indictment.  The clinic where Dr. Castronuovo worked — called Executive Pain — specialized in treating pain-med seekers who were discharged from a sister clinic because     needle track marks and scars identified them as intravenous drug users, according to prosecutors.  George brothers paid their physicians according to how many patients they saw per day, which averaged 40 to 100. They also received thousands of     dollars for allowing the George brothers to store controlled substances at the clinics using their Drug Enforcement Administration numbers. Altogether, the     average physician earned more than $1 million a year. Prosecutors say the physicians prescribed a standard "cocktail" of controlled substances — specifically, oxycodone and alprazolam — on an assembly-line     basis without obtaining prior medical records, ordering alternative treatments such as physical therapy, or referring anyone to specialists. The clinics     also dispensed the prescribed pain pills and accepted only cash or credit cards as payment to avoid the scrutiny of third-party payers. The cash was hauled     to the bank in garbage bags.  Earlier this year, Christopher George and Jeffrey George each pleaded guilty to a federal charge of racketeering conspiracy and received prison sentences     of 17.5 years and 15.5 years, respectively.  The physicians who have pleaded guilty so far have fared a little better. Seven were given prison sentences ranging from 4 years to 6.5 years. Another     physician received a 6-month sentence, and yet another, 4 years on probation. Jacobo Dreszer, MD, the father of convicted defendant Roni Dreszer, MD,     pleaded guilty only to die several weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced.  The ignominious ending of medical careers, the prison sentences, and the deaths of Dr. Dreszer and Dr. Beretsky were not the only circumstances darkening     the case with tragedy. US District Judge Kenneth Marra recommended that 4 of the physicians whom he sentenced to prison enroll in a 500-hour     substance-abuse program behind bars.

Number of Overdose Deaths May Never Be Known

The greater tragedy in the case was the death toll among patients. Prosecutors have charged Dr. Cadet with 7 overdose deaths and Dr. Castronuovo with 2,     all of them involving oxycodone. However, there were many other deaths associated with the entire pill-mill operation, as US District Attorney Paul     Schwartz recounted to US Magistrate Judge Linnea Johnson in an arraignment and pretrial detention hearing last year regarding Dr. Cadet. "We found that there were over 53 overdose deaths that we have been able to identify with this case alone, just in Florida," Schwartz said. "Again, we     don't know how many kids died behind barns in Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and 87% of the patients came from out of state. "Seven Floridians per day die from drug overdoses. This is because of physicians like this who abrogate their duty to do no harm."Dr. Castronuovo has maintained his innocence regarding the overdose deaths attributed to him. He claims that 2 expert forensic pathologists reviewed the 2     patient deaths and concluded that neither was caused by the medications he prescribed, according to court records. Thomas Sclafani, Dr. Castronuovo's attorney and a former federal prosecutor, described his client as a conscientious physician, especially when it came to     patients who feigned illness and exaggerated their pain levels in the quest for opioids. "Dr. Castronuovo was able to use his 35 to 40 years of practice to     weed out the people who were not legitimate," Sclafani told Medscape Medical News. "He threw them out." Dr. Castronuovo, in his early 70s, has asked the court to sever his case from that of Dr. Cadet, arguing that the enormous amount of evidence to be entered     against her will taint him. The government opposes that move. Dr. Cadet, in turn, contends that her actions were legitimate and medically appropriate. A former attorney of hers noted in the arraignment and pretrial     detention hearing last year that Dr. Cadet offered to take an FBI polygraph test to exonerate herself, a proposal turned down by US District Attorney     Schwartz. "She's been screaming from the rooftop since day one that she's innocent," said Michael Weinstein, Dr. Cadet's current attorney. "Just because another     doctor takes a plea doesn't mean that she's done something wrong." The government has asserted that Dr. Cadet, in her early 40s, should have figured out that the George twins were operating a criminal enterprise, which was     acknowledged by the physicians who eventually pleaded guilty. "They saw hundreds of...junkies lined up every morning before the clinic even opened," said Schwartz in last year's hearing. "They saw fights in the     waiting room. They saw seizures in the waiting room. They saw the cops come in every day."They cannot distance themselves from the facts of the case. They can try to argue medicine, but the facts in this case sink them."Weinstein counters that Dr. Cadet was hired to see patients, not help run the clinic. "There's no connection between her care of patients and the     day-to-day operation of the clinic," he told Medscape Medical News. US Magistrate Judge Linnea Johnson had something to say on that subject, too. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know a pill mill," she said during Dr. Cadet's hearing last year. "So it is a little difficult for one to assume     that the physicians behind the desk don't see what the folks standing on the corner see regarding these pill mills, but (Dr. Cadet's) guilt or innocence     remains for a jury."

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Aug 2, 2012 Gainsville, FL   Complaint in pill mill case targets doctor's  license

By _Cindy  Swirko_ (http://www.gainesville.com/personalia/swirkoc

A complaint detailing how undercover officers got powerful prescription  narcotics from a Gainesville pain clinic without having ailments seeks to 
revoke  a doctor's license along with fines and other action. The  complaint was filed recently by the Florida Department of Health 
against the  Gainesville Health and Wellness Center at 7731 Newberry Road Suite A-3, which in  June was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Dr.  Roger Gordon, whose license is targeted for revocation in the complaint, already  has been arrested on a variety of drug and racketeering charges. DEA  special agent Mia Ro from the agency's Miami office said Gordon and other  doctors operated several pain clinics in the state.  "These  doctors didn't work in just one clinic. These clinics were linked together, and  they worked in multiple locations," Ro said Thursday.  "According to the warrant, (Gordon's) acts were  in numerous counties. What is significant about this case is that it was one  organization that they were a part of. In other investigations of pill mills,  they were small. This was one drug trafficking organization working with these  doctors."  Two  undercover officers got drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone from Gordon with  minimal examinations, according to the complaint. The  officers, claiming to be in pain, gave reports that indicated they previously  had been injured and had been prescribed narcotics but had run out of  medicine. One  officer's physical exam by Gordon was primarily having her move her legs while  lying on her back and side.  Urine  tests done on both officers turned up negative, which should have alerted Gordon  that the drugs were being diverted, according to the  complaint.

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Aug 1, 2012  Newton Iowa doctor surrenders license, allegedly prescribed narcotics that 
killed  patients
 by _Tony  Leys_ 
(http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/author/tleys/)  | 

A Newton doctor has surrendered his medical license in the wake of  
allegations that he 'promiscuously' prescribed narcotic drugs, including to  
people who wound up dying of overdoses. 
Dr. Lafayette Twyner, 53, also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to settle the  
allegations brought against him by the Iowa Board of Medicine, which 
licenses  physicians. The board in January accused Twyner of carelessly prescribing 
large  amounts of prescription painkillers to patients, including to people 
he knew had  histories of addiction. The board said several of those people 
died of  overdoses. 
Twyner still faces a lawsuit from the widow of a 32-year-old man who died 
of  an overdose, and law enforcement officers searched his clinic last year. 
The medical board, which licenses physicians, said the family medicine 
doctor  "prescribed large quantities of potentially lethal drugs to numerous 
patients  with known substance-abuse histories who exhibited drug-seeking 
behavior on  numerous occasions."
It also said he had prescribed such drugs without performing appropriate  
physical exams, taking medical histories or establishing treatment plans. The 
board also said Twyner had engaged in fraudulent billing practices. 
A lawsuit filed in Jasper County District Court in January accuses Twyner 
of  contributing to the death of patient Roy E. Long II, who died in March 
2010 of a  mixture of drugs and alcohol. 
The lawsuit says the doctor "caused or contributed to" Long's addiction to 
hydrocodone painkillers, which Twyner began prescribing to him in 2007. 
The suit  seeks damages for Long?s widow, Deserae, and their two children. 
The medical board documents accuse Twyner of prescribing drugs for "other  
than a lawful purpose," but it's not clear whether he could face criminal  
charges. 
Twyner's clinic was searched last spring by federal, state and local law  
officers, according to a news release at the time. The urgent care clinic was 
formerly headed by Dr. Angel Martin, who served a six-month federal prison 
sentence for fraud. Martin, who surrendered his medical license in 2010, 
was  accused by prosecutors of pocketing more than $400,000 over seven years 
by  inflating his bills. He denied the allegations. 
Twyner's case comes amid heightened concern about prescription drug abuse.  
State countermeasures include creation of a computerized system that tracks 
prescriptions for addictive medications.

July 31, 2012 WV Doctor prescribed nearly 6,000 pills to patient with known  addiction

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a doctor pleaded guilty to violating federal drug control laws. Dr. Anita Dawson, 55 years of age, originally of West Virginia, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in obtaining  controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, and subterfuge. Dawson admitted that from July 2006 until May 21, 2009, she wrote  prescriptions for addictive pain medications to an individual identified as  ?E.B.? Dawson admitted she wrote a total of nearly 6,000 pills containing  oxycodone and a total of more than 220 pills for the painkiller Endocet. Dawson  further admitted that at the time she wrote the prescriptions for ?E.B.,? she was aware that the patient was seeking pain medication for an addiction and  other inappropriate reasons.
Authorities said  Dawson and ?E.B.? entered into a pain management agreement that required the  patient to submit to drug tests and pill counts. Despite the known individual?s  repeated violations of the pain management agreement, Dawson admitted she  continued to prescribe pain medication. ?This conviction is an important victory in the fight against prescription  drug abuse,? said Goodwin. ?The vast majority of physicians prescribe  responsibly, but even a handful of bad doctors can flood our communities with  illegal pills. Every time we put a law-breaking doctor out of business, it?s a  big step toward getting this problem under control.? Dawson?s medical license was suspended by the West Virginia Board of  Osteopathy in April 2010, on the same day federal and state investigators  executed a search warrant at her Milton office. Following the search and the  suspension of her medical license, Dawson voluntarily gave up her license  permanently. Dawson faces up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is  sentenced on October 29, 2012 by United States District Judge Robert C.  Chambers.

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July 31, 2012  Kentucky Doctor's license restricted after accusations of over-prescribing 

Police tell us vigilant citizens deserve the  credit for getting a doctor's license restricted after they came forward with  concerns about 
over-prescribed pain pills. State health officials say Doctor Louis  Wulfekuhler put the public in danger while he practiced medicine in  Williamsburg. Police they saw a 
suspiciously high number of new patients at  Wulfekuhler's office.  "The number of patients that were over there  were just unreal. We went from seeing an occasional six, seven vehicles at a  time in the parking lot to fifteen to twenty vehicles at a time in the parking  lot," said Chief Wayne Bird of the Williamsburg Police Department.  Wulfekuhler's attorneys say he was new to  the area and unfamiliar with its prescription drug abuse problems. Because he  previously worked as an oncologist for cancer patients, they say he had never  faced anyone faking pain to get pills. They say because of that, he didn't enter  his patients into KASPER, the system designed to track who's gotten pain  medication. Police say 
they don't buy that story. "The people that we saw going in the clinic  and out of the clinic that we arrested for being over medicated, he should have  picked up on that 
immediately, he's a doctor!" said Chief Bird.  Police tell us several of Wulfekuhler's  patients, as well as the thirteen-year-old daughter of two of his patients,  overdosed on medication. Workers with Operation UNITE, which focuses on  eliminating prescription drug abuse, said the restriction of Wulfekuhler's  license is a victory for the community.  "It needed to happen. Quite frankly, we have  doctors coming in, many of them from out of town, out of state, that are killing  our communities and it needs to stop," said Karen Kelly, CEO of Operation  UNITE. 
Wulfekuhler is banned from practicing  medicine in Kentucky without written consent from state health officials. WKYT  reached out to the clinic where Wulfekuhler worked to get their side of the  story, but they declined to comment.

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Updated: 9:46 p.m. Friday, July 20, 2012 | Posted: 7:12 p.m. Friday, July 20, 2012

 2 doctors linked to George brothers pill mill operation charged with murder

By Jane Musgrave  Palm Beach Post Staff Writer   WEST PALM BEACH —

 Two doctors who have refused to take plea deals since they were charged in connection with a massive pill mill operation last year now face possible life imprisonment because federal officials claim their prescription-writing led to nine deaths.   In a new indictment released Friday, Drs. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo are each charged with 13 crimes associated with so-called pain clinics operated by infamous Wellington twins Jeff and Chris George. The most serious charge both doctors face is possession with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in death. It carries a possible life sentence and $2 million fine. Cadet, 42, who now lives in Ocala, is accused of contributing to the deaths of seven people she allegedly treated at George brother clinics in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boca Raton and several Broward County cities. Castronuovo, 72, who now lives in Key Largo, is linked to two deaths, prosecutors say.  Their attorneys scoffed at the charges. Like the other 11 doctors who were charged in federal court in connection with the massive operation, both were offered plea deals. Both refused. So, their attorneys said, the government is trying to force their hands by threatening to send them to prison for life.  "You don’t play nice in the sand box, they stack it up against you,” said attorney Richard Merlino, who represents Cadet. “In my opinion, she’s grossly overcharged.”  Attorney Thomas Scalfani, who represents Castronuovo, agreed.“This is a vindictive prosecution,” he said. “The government has gone to extra lengths to try to paint this doctor as someone who is not only a drug dealer but also responsible for the deaths of two people. The evidence just isn’t there.” Cadet and Castronuovo were among 32 people, including the Georges, their mother and one of the twin’s wives, who were indicted in August 2011 in connection with the operation that prosecutors said attracted people from Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, and led to more than 50 overdose deaths. Separately, one doctor was charged in state court with murder for allegedly causing the overdose death of 24-year-old West Palm Beach resident Joey Bartolucci. Dr. Gerald Klein is still awaiting trial.But all of the other 11 doctors indicted in federal court pleaded guilty to either money laundering or mail fraud. Most got five-year sentences. The brothers pleaded guilty to much more serious charges and are serving sentences of more than 15 years.  Castronuovo and Cadet have steadfastly maintained their innocence and were to be tried next month. Before Friday, Castronuovo faced only a mail fraud charge. Cadet faced 13 charges, the most serious of which carried a maximum 20-year sentence.  In the new indictment, federal prosecutors say Cadet and Castronuovo were integrally involved in the Georges’ far-flung operation. From December 2008 to March 2010, Cadet ordered 876,000 Oxycodone pills, they claim. Castronuovo ordered 388,600 Oxycodone pills from February 2009 to March 2010.   The two dispensed the high-powered highly-addictive drugs to a steady stream of patients without performing any diagnostic tests to determine if the pills were needed to treat a legitimate medical condition, according to the indictment.  As a result, prosecutors said, nine people died. While no addresses were available, from readily available sources it doesn’t appear any were from South Florida. Three appear to be from Kentucky, one from Tennessee, one from West Virginia and one from the Daytona Beach area. No addresses could be found for three of the victims. The names, listed in the indictment are: Stacy Edward Mason, Alice Marie Moore, Patricia Marcus, Stephen Andrew Wooten, Bobby Shane Romine, David Keith Coffmann, Shawn Michael Harper, Tommy Wayne Harris and Michael Grant.  Both attorneys said their clients examined their patients and checked their medical histories to make sure the drugs were needed. Earlier this year, Castronuovo almost accepted a plea deal to resolve the mail-fraud charge. Then, he backed out.  “He has never admitted he violated the law,” Scalfani said. “He was just buckling under all this pressure. When he slept on it, he said, no way.”  Cadet has never even considered pleading guilty, Merlino said. She has always insisted she acted within accepted medical standards. Even when she knew prosecutors were likely to heap more charges on her, she was adamant, he said. She still is.  “It shows me how stoic she is in her belief she is innocent,” Merlino said.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-la...

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rom California Watch 7/12

 A Northern California doctor is being accused of gross negligence and  
prescribing excessive amounts of pain pills to six patients who died of  
overdoses under his care, according to the Medical Board of California.  
A 60-page report details the alleged conduct of Dr. Thomas Neuschatz, who 
has  practiced in Chico, Marysville and rural Yuba County. He's accused of  
prescribing escalating doses of narcotics to patients with addiction problems 
while taking few steps to substantiate their complaints of pain.  
The complaint describes nine patients who died under his care. Six of them, 
including a 19-year-old who had twice been in residential drug 
rehabilitation,  died of drug poisoning or overdoses of addictive sedatives and opiates 
that  Neuschatz prescribed. The drugs included oxycodone, methadone and 
Soma.  
Prescription pain pills were linked to more than 15,000 U.S. deaths in 
2009,  or about 41 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and  
Prevention. The CDC has called the problem a national epidemic and tracked  
escalating prescribing of morphine-based drugs to rising deaths.  
The state medical board released its report in May. Neuschatz was seeing  
patients Wednesday, according to a woman who answered the phone at his  
Marysville office, but neither the doctor nor his attorney returned calls for  
comment.  
Doctors facing accusations by the medical board can surrender their 
license,  fight the case at an administrative hearing or seek a settlement with the 
board.  
California Watch reported last week about the medical board's case against 
an  East Bay doctor, Edward Manougian, who was linked to the deaths of three 
patients who also were prescribed narcotic pain pills.  
Other California doctors have been prosecuted for negligent prescribing of  
narcotic pain pills, including Dr. Julio Diaz, a Santa Barbara doctor whom 
some  patients nicknamed the "candy man." Diaz has been linked to scores of 
emergency  room admissions and a dozen patient deaths.  
In all three doctors' cases, complaints about the physicians' practices 
were  filed with the board that oversees physician conduct months or years 
before the  board filed formal accusations.  
A Nevada County doctor was among the first to complain about Neuschatz in  
June 2009, about three years before the board filed a formal complaint. The  
physician said Neuschatz was prescribing opiates to a patient with a 
"remote"  history of a wrist fracture and a history of addiction.  
The patient told a medical board investigator that he went to Neuschatz  
"because he heard it was easy to get medication from him" and paid $50 to $60  
for five-minute visits. The patient also said he woke up in the hospital 
two  days after overdosing on Percocet. He said his addiction to prescription 
drugs  cost him his marriage, house and job.  
Later in 2009, the sister of another patient also complained to the medical 
board, records show. She said Neuschatz was prescribing multiple 
controlled  substances to her 42-year-old sister, even though the woman had a history 
of  substance abuse and had sold drugs prescribed by Neuschatz.  
Records show Neuschatz prescribed the woman the equivalent of 1,035  
milligrams of morphine a day, a dose far higher than the 100 to 200 milligrams  
typically given to cancer patients, the board accusation says. The American 
Pain  Society has concluded that 200 milligrams of morphine per day, which is 
less  than two top-strength OxyContin pills, is a "high dose" that merits a 
closer  look.  
Soon after the late 2009 complaint, the board began to examine cases in 
which  Neuschatz's patients had died. One was a 19-year-old who was in and out 
of  college and drug rehabilitation before he died in early 2010. Records 
show  Neuschatz was the only doctor the teen was seeing when he was being 
prescribed  methadone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and Xanax.  
The patient told Neuschatz that he had a drug-related hospital admission in 
his past. He also said he had neck pain from a sports injury and two car  
accidents, but could not recall the names of his doctors or where he got 
prior  prescriptions for oxycodone.  
Records show that when the teen went home to San Diego in late 2009 for a  
residential drug detoxification program, Neuschatz continued to prescribe 
the  patient hydromorphone, sold commercially as Dilaudid, and methadone. Soon 
after,  the teen died while he was prescribed a course of 740 milligrams of 
morphine per  day.  
Another patient, a 42-year-old special education teacher, died Dec. 7, 
2010,  after paying $65 each for 28 visits with Neuschatz. The woman's 
housekeeper  found her dead in her home two days later. She died of acute poisoning 
from  multiple pharmaceuticals, including morphine and methadone.  
Records show the patient was on "modest" and "appropriate" doses of  
hydrocodone and ibuprofen when she began to see Neuschatz. He prescribed her  
additional opioid drugs.  
The patient's daughter, records show, had called Neuschatz twice during the 
summer of 2010, concerned about her mother's functional and mental  
deterioration. The board accusation says Neuschatz told the daughter to talk to  
her mother's primary care doctor.  
The board accusation says Neuschatz was grossly negligent by failing to  
respond to the patient's complaints about memory loss and sedation before her  
death.  
Several other patients being treated by Neuschatz died of overdoses,  
including a 61-year-old woman whose Walgreens pharmacist called to warn her of  
"toxic interactions" between the medications prescribed to her.  
The medical board complaint states that family members of other patients  
reached out to Neuschatz, asking him to limit his prescriptions.  
In one case, which did not involve a death, the father of a 19-year-old 
Chico  State University student called, records show, pleading with the doctor 
to stop  prescribing after the teen had a seizure attributed to Xanax 
withdrawal while  home in San Diego in January 2010. Records show that in 2009, 
the student was  being prescribed the equivalent of 1,700 milligrams of 
morphine per day and  repeatedly sought drug refills, saying his medications were 
being stolen.  
After the father asked the doctor to stop prescribing, the medical board  
complaint says Neuschatz did not document the request in the son's medical  
record.  
California Watch

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July 20, 2012 

_By  STEVE WHITWORTH_ 
(http://www.thetelegraph.com/reporter-profile/bysteve-whitworth-965
The Telegraph

EAST ST. LOUIS - A federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment 
Thursday  against the physician who operates the Walk In Clinic on East Broadway 
in Alton,  charging him with illegally distributing controlled substances, 
among other  offenses. 
The grand jury in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis handed down the  
indictment naming Dr. Viwathna Bhuthimethee, 66, of Alton, the operator of the 
Walk In Clinic, 654 E. Broadway, said U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton 
of the  Southern District of Illinois. 
The indictment alleges that, for most patients, Bhuthimethee did not 
operate  a legitimate medical practice, but instead was engaged in a scheme to 
distribute  controlled substances illegally, thereby defrauding health care 
benefit programs  - namely, Illinois Medicaid - by running what was in essence 
a prescription  service for drug addicts, commonly known as a "pill mill," 
Wigginton said. 
Bhuthimethee is charged with: 
- health care fraud in Count 1, which carries penalties of a maximum of 10  
years' imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum of three years 
of  supervised release and a $100 special assessment; 
- illegal distribution of a Schedule III controlled substance (hydrocodone) 
in Counts 2 through 9, which carries penalties of a maximum of 10 years'  
imprisonment, a maximum fine of $500,000, no less than two years of 
supervised  release and a $100 special assessment; 
- and illegal distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax) in 
Counts 10 through 15, which carries penalties of a maximum of five years'  
imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, one year of supervised release 
and a  $100 special assessment. 
Alton Police Chief David Hayes said he had expected serious charges to be  
filed against Bhuthimethee. 
"We knew this was coming," Hayes said. "We knew a federal investigation had 
been under way for what could be as many as two years now. We first opened 
up  the case, and we worked with the federal government on the case. I'm 
happy to  see that the grand jury has found what we believed we knew all 
along." 
In 2010, Bhuthimethee voluntarily gave up a registration certification that 
had given him the authority to prescribe narcotic drugs. 
"We're glad that this may actually shut him down completely," Hayes said  
about Thursday's indictment. "Before, when he was under investigation, he 
didn't  have a license any longer to dispense controlled substances, but he was 
still  allowed to practice. This, in all probability, will put him out of  
business." 
Wigginton said the case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health 
and  Human Services-Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Drug Enforcement  
Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as by the  
Illinois State Police, Medicaid Fraud Control Bureau, the Alton Police  
Department and the Madison County Coroner's Office. 
In 2010, Hayes told The Telegraph his department had been informed by  
confidential sources that the doctor allegedly was prescribing narcotic drugs to 
"chemically dependent people." Alton police enlisted the help of the U.S. 
Drug  Enforcement Agency, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and 
Human  Services. 
Authorities kept the office under surveillance and obtained information 
from  other confidential sources, Hayes said. 
On July 13, 2010, Alton police, along with members of the DEA, FBI and the  
DHHS, went to the Walk In Clinic and met with Bhuthimethee, who voluntarily 
relinquished his DEA registration that allowed him to prescribe controlled 
substances to his patients. 
Bhuthimethee had a previous scrape with state authorities in which the  
Illinois Department of Public Aid expelled him from the public aid program. 
In 1995, the Public Aid Department cited Bhuthimethee for failing to order  
Pap tests for women on six of the 17 patients reviewed by the department. 
However, the doctor filed a lawsuit seeking administrative review, and that 
decision was reversed in 1997. 
The doctor's office also has been cited by the city for upkeep of the  
building. One citation for unsanitary conditions in the rear of the building was 
dropped.

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7/2012

Prescott naturopath  arrested on charges of prescription drug fraud: Doctor 
was out on bond in  underage sex case 
_Lisa  Irish_ (mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " href="mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " style="text-decoration: underline; color: rgb(35, 71, 134); outline: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; text-align: -webkit-auto; "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Daily  Courier

Partners Against Narcotics  Trafficking (PANT) officers arrested Dr. Randy 
Joe Spicer, 39, of Prescott  Wednesday on several felony charges including 
obtaining a narcotic drug by  fraud - less than a month after being arrested 
and released on bond for  allegedly luring a minor for sexual  exploitation.

Detectives had monitored Spicer  prescribing narcotic medication for 
non-medical-related reasons to  patients of his naturopathic medical practice at 
the Clearwater Medical  Center in Prescott, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman 
for the _Yavapai County Sheriff's Office_ (http://www.ycsoaz.gov/) .

The several-months-long investigation  into Spicer was directed by the 
newly formed Yavapai County Prescription  Drug Task Force, led by Sheriff Scott 
Mascher and staffed by PANT  personnel that works closely with MATForce.

During  the investigation, detectives documented several violations, 
including  Spicer's alleged agreement to profit from medications he knowingly  
prescribed for resale on the streets. 

"The doctor  issued an unusually high level of prescriptions for certain 
medications  and investigators verified that the prescriptions issued to those 
persons  were not necessary and for non-medical purposes," D'Evelyn said. 
"It's  definitely unusual and not something we'd expect a doctor to be  
doing."

Investigators allegedly found multiple  incidents that indicated a pattern 
of behavior.  

"Investigators have to be very careful about how  they proceed," D'Evelyn 
said. "There have to be multiple incidents to show  the county attorney there 
is a definite pattern and practice to what he's  doing."

Spicer was arrested in the medical center  complex and booked into the 
Yavapai County Jail on felony charges  including three counts of administering a 
narcotic drug, three counts of  obtaining a narcotic drug by fraud, one 
count of conspiracy to sell  dangerous drugs, and one count of facilitation to 
sell or distribute  dangerous drugs.

Spicer did not make any comments  to investigators after his arrest, 
D'Evelyn  said.

Spicer remained in jail Thursday in lieu of  $15,000 bond for these charges 
plus $50,000 bond revocation in a prior  case less than a month ago, 
D'Evelyn said.

Spicer  had been released from the jail on bond less than a month ago on 
felony  charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and two counts of 
sexual  conduct with a minor.

In that case, a 15-year-old  girl told detectives she was a patient of 
Spicer's and had oral sexual  contact with him during two visits in May, 
Prescott Police Lt. Andy  Reinhardt said. Detectives also learned that Spicer 
allegedly requested  and received sexually related text messages and a photograph 
from the  girl.

After Spicer's earlier release from custody  in that case, he continued to 
use his medical practice to prescribe  medication for non-medical-related 
reasons, D'Evelyn said.

The Yavapai County Prescription Drug Task  Force was created to help deal 
with the abuse of prescription drugs in the  county, D'Evelyn said, adding 
that the issue has become a major  one.

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By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles  Times  
July 13, 2012

The undercover sheriff's deputy pretending to be a  patient in pain 
presented a Glendora physician with an _X-ray_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/medical-procedures-tests/x-rays-HEPAS000036.topic)  to accompany her tale 
of an injured back and neck.

The only problem was  the X-ray revealed a "tail" of a different kind ? one 
belonging to a  dog.

Though the X-ray for a German shepherd had the dog's name, Recon,  and the 
name of an animal hospital printed on it, the doctor wrote the deputy a  
prescription for a powerful narcotic painkiller and a _muscle  relaxant_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/muscle-relaxers-HEDAR00000165.
topic) , law enforcement officials said.

On Thursday, authorities  raided the clinic of Dr. Rolando Lodevico Atiga 
and arrested him on suspicion of  improperly prescribing addictive 
medications to people with no legitimate  medical need for them.

As he was led handcuffed from his urgent care  clinic off the 210 Freeway, 
Atiga said he did not know what charges he faced. "I  can't say if I've done 
anything wrong or anything right," he said.

Atiga,  69, has been under investigation by Glendora police and the _Los  
Angeles County Sheriff's Department_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/crime-law-justice/police/law-enforcement/los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-ORGOV00
0937.topic) 's Health Authority Law Enforcement Task  Force for about two 
months, officials said. The doctor wrote prescriptions to  three deputies 
posing as patients, they said.

The deputy who showed Atiga  the dog X-ray told the doctor she was in a car 
accident several weeks before her  visit and needed "something way 
stronger" than the _Tylenol_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/tylenol-(drug)-HEDAR000002157160.topic)  she claimed to be taking, according 
to an audio recording of the visit reviewed  by The Times.

The doctor asked few questions before listing the drugs he  could prescribe.

"Do you want to try _Vicodin  ES_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/vicodin-(drug)-HEDAR000003.topic) ?" he asked. "Or do you want 
to try others? ... Roxicodone? Or _oxycodone_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/oxycontin-(drug)-HEDAR0000098155.topic) ?  ... Or 
whatever you want....Maybe some _Valium_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/valium-(drug)-HEDAR0000050.topic)  or _Xanax_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/alprazolam-(drug)-HEDAR0000014.topic) 
."

The  deputy chose Roxicodone and pulled out two X-rays of the dog. Atiga 
examined  them and referred to specific bones, explaining what they were to 
the agent,  according to the recording.

"That's the hip joint right there," the  doctor said, apparently indicating 
one of the dog's bones.

Glendora  police had received complaints "that for the right amount of 
cash" the doctor  would "write prescriptions for you" and pocket the cash, 
Police Capt. Timothy  Staab said.

"He was well-known among drug addicts and prescription  medication 
addicts," Staab said. "He was the doctor to go to."

The doctor  is believed to have asked patients, who paid hundreds of 
dollars for  prescriptions, to give his receptionist a $50 tip "for her time and 
troubles,"  Staab said.

Atiga has a prior felony conviction for taking illegal  kickbacks in return 
for referring Medicare patients for home health services,  according to 
state medical board records.

Atiga also has been disciplined  by the Medical Board of California, which 
has placed his medical license on  probation, records show.

In 2010, the medical board required the doctor  to undergo a psychiatric 
evaluation. Doctors evaluating him expressed concern  that he might have had 
"early signs of _dementia_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/diseases-illnesses/alzheimers-disease-HEDAI000007.topic) ,"  according to medical board 
documents.

In 1996, the doctor's license was  placed on probation after accusations 
that included excessive prescribing,  medical board records show.

Authorities on Thursday spent hours searching  Atiga's clinic as well as 
his home in Glendora.

The doctor was released  from custody Thursday afternoon pending further 
investigation and charges by the  district attorney's office, police said.

*****************************************************************************

7/12/12

TIFFIN Ohio -- A Tiffin doctor has been charged with 30 drug-related counts  
following a long investigation into local prescription-drug trafficking, the  
Seneca County Drug Task Force's METRICH enforcement unit announced late  
Wednesday. 
A Seneca County grand jury handed up the 30-count indictment against Samuel 
J. Christian, 55, based on evidence gathered by the enforcement unit, the 
Ohio  State Board of Pharmacy Office, and the Ohio State Medical Board, 
according to a  statement. 
Dr. Christian is charged with 24 counts of aggravated drug trafficking, a  
second-degree felony; two counts each of third-degree and fourth-degree drug 
trafficking, and single counts each of fifth-degree drug trafficking and  
methadone treatment license violation. He was held Wednesday night in the 
Seneca  County jail pending further court proceedings.

**********************************************************************************

July 7, 2012 

Drug Enforcement  Administration agents on Wednesday raided the offices of 
a Los Angeles County  doctor suspected of improperly prescribing powerful 
narcotics to patients ?  including undercover agents ? with no legitimate 
need for the drugs.

Dr.  Andrew S.O. Sun, 76, of La Mirada, surrendered his license to 
prescribe  controlled substances after agents with the DEA, California Medical 
Board, _Internal  Revenue Service_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/economy-business-finance/internal-revenue-service-ORGOV000010.topic)  and the state 
Department of Healthcare Services searched his  home and clinics in East Los Angeles 
and San Gabriel.

Sun, a family  practice doctor, routinely wrote prescriptions for drugs 
including _OxyContin_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/oxycontin-(drug)-HEDAR0000098155.topic) ,  _Vicodin_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/vicodin-(drug)-HEDAR000003.topic)  and _Xanax_ 
(http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/alprazolam-(drug)-HEDAR000
0014.topic)  to patients without properly examining them, according to a 
search warrant  affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He 
allegedly charged  cash, which he pocketed in the exam room.

Sun was not charged with a  crime and retained his license to practice 
medicine. But he remains under  investigation by multiple agencies.

According to the affidavit, Sun  prescribed the drugs to several 
investigators posing as patients indicating  little or no pain. The doctor charged 
each agent $150 and, despite accusing them  of being drug abusers and law 
enforcement officers, wrote them prescriptions,  court papers state.

"If you want to insist on getting such a strong  medicine, I'll give it to 
you," Sun allegedly told an agent after debating  whether she needed 
Vicodin. "I'm just a doctor. I'm not God, OK, so I cannot say  no to something that 
you want to do.... I can only advise you not to, but if you  want to do it ?
I can't say no."

An Apple Valley pharmacist complained to  the medical board about the 
suspicious nature of Sun's patients, the affidavit  states. Some drove up to 80 
miles to get prescriptions filled, and they filled  multiple prescriptions 
from Sun using different patient names.

Sun  insists he did nothing wrong and said doctors, not law enforcement 
authorities,  should be the ones to determine if examinations are appropriate.

"There  is no standard of what is an adequate examination," Sun said in his 
East L.A.  clinic Wednesday afternoon. "It's a matter of opinion.... The 
doctor and patient  should develop a mutual trust rather than a mutual 
suspicion."

Sun said  that his home and clinics were "ransacked" and that he regrets 
surrendering his  license to prescribe controlled substances.

Sun has been disciplined by  the medical board in the past for, among other 
things, prescribing without  proper exams and falsely altering patients' 
medical records. The IRS is  investigating numerous bank accounts in Sun's 
name that have received large cash  deposits, the affidavit states.

Benjamin R. Barron, a federal prosecutor,  said authorities take improper 
prescribing cases "very seriously."

"These  are very dangerous, very addictive drugs, and we entrust doctors to 
do their  jobs as gatekeepers," Barron said. "When a doctor fails to do 
that and  prescribes drugs not for a medical need but for money, that doctor is 
no  different from any other drug dealer."

**************************************************************************************

July 10, 2012 Written by Desert Sun wire services 


RIVERSIDE -- A former doctor with a laundry list of  convictions for 
identity theft and forgery connected to a years-long addiction  to painkillers 
pleaded guilty today to committing the same type of crime  again. 
Lisa Michele Barden, 43, was arrested May 19 in Corona  after she presented 
a fake prescription for opiates at the Main Street Pharmacy  at 823 Main 
St. 
She used another physician?s information to acquire the pills, but pharmacy 
staff recognized her and contacted police after she left the location.  
The one-time Coachella Valley-area gynecologist was charged with identity  
theft, falsifying a prescription, forgery, misdemeanor check fraud and 
making  false representations about her professional status. 

During a hearing  today before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios 
Hernandez, Barden  withdrew her not guilty plea and pleaded guilty to all 
charges. The district  attorney?s office was not a party to the action.  
Hernandez referred the case to the county?s Department of Probation for a  
pre-sentencing report that will include a recommended punishment.  
The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 24. Barden remains held 
in  lieu of $10,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.  
According to district attorney?s office spokesman John Hall, the defendant  
could face up to seven years, 8 months behind bars, which is what 
prosecutors  will seek based on a suspended sentence Barden received after being 
convicted in  December 2010 of 272 felony counts ? to which she pleaded guilty ?
including  forging prescriptions, illegally possessing controlled 
substances, identity  theft and burglary.  
In exchange for her plea, Barden was sentenced to a year in jail and five  
years probation and was ordered to complete 1,000 hours of community service 
and  attend a drug rehabilitation program.  
The defendant?s license was suspended for three years. However, it was  
permanently revoked by the state medical board last April.  
In January 2009, Barden was arrested following a yearlong investigation by  
the California Department of Justice?s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and 
the  Riverside Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team.  
According to investigators, who followed her between February 2007 and  
December 2008, Barden illegally acquired more than 30,000 pills, primarily  
hydrocodone and oxycodone, drugs most often used to contain pain, but which 
also  induce euphoria and reduce anxiety.  
Barden, also known as Lisa Degner, worked at several Palm Springs medical  
clinics.  
She visited 43 pharmacies on 131 occasions to get drugs, according to  
investigators.  
Prosecutors said Barden stole 15 patients? identities and faked several  
doctors? signatures to obtain the  medications.

*******************************************************************************

July 11, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Following an investigation into his prescribing  
records, Dr. William Chang has decided to retire and surrender his medical  
license. 
The investigation was led by the Boards of Pharmacy and Medical Licensure 
and  Discipline after Chang was accused of over-prescribing opiods, 
stimulants, and  Suboxone. According to the report, his "patient chart reviews 
indicate a pattern  of substandard medical practice." 
A former member of the Cranston East Medical Clinic, Dr. Chang's controlled 
substances registration was suspended last July after the Board of Health  
received a complaint. They then received three more complaints over the 
next  four months of his suspension. 
In November, Chang was assessed by the Center for Personalized Education 
for  Physicians to determine whether or not he should be allowed to continue  
practicing medicine. The Center ultimately determined that the doctor would 
need  to return to a residency-like setting to "address his educational 
needs." 
A licensed doctor for over 25 years, Chang decided to retire at the age of  
72. As part of the terms of the disciplinary hearing, he will not be 
allowed to  renew his license unless he completes a training program. 

*******************************************************************************

July 10, 2012 

(http://washingtonexaminer.com/photo/pid/2508602
Naval Hospital Jacksonville, where Pressman is now  assigned.  
A Navy doctor has been charged with writing and filling  fraudulent 
prescriptions in other people's names at a Pentagon drug store, court  papers show. 
Peter Pressman was arrested last week and faces a  preliminary hearing 
Thursday in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., on one  charge of aggravated 
identity theft. 
Several employees of a Defense Department task force  told naval 
investigators that Pressman wrote prescriptions for narcotics in  their names and 
without their knowledge in 2010, according to charging documents  filed in 
federal court in Alexandria. 
Most of the prescriptions were for narcotic pain killers  and were filled 
at a CVS pharmacy at the Pentagon under the Federal Employees  Health 
Benefits Program. 
Pressman sent an email to one of those employees,  identified only as P.B., 
last October apologizing for what he did, the court  records show. 
"I am terrified about my poor judgment leading to an  accusation of 
insurance fraud," the email stated. "I don't want to dig myself  any deeper, but I 
feel like I've got to be proactive to avoid disaster. I  apologize for 
burdening you with this, but if you help me out of this one, I  will happily owe 
you Everything." 
Pressman the next day also apologized to the insurance  carrier even though 
he claimed some of the medicine was being used to help  "starving 
adolescents" in Afghanistan. 
A CVS pharmacist told authorities that Pressman often  picked up patients' 
prescriptions, would always pay patients' co-pays or pay the  cost of the 
prescription in cash and had on more than one occasion prescribed  multiple 
prescriptions for hundreds of hydrocodone pills to the same patient  within a 
short period. 
Pressman is currently assigned to a naval hospital in  Jacksonville but is 
not involved in patient care, Capt. Michael Vernere,  executive officer of 
Naval Hospital Jacksonville, said in a  statement.  http://washingtonexaminer.com/navy-doctor-charged-in-pentagon-drug-scam/article/%20mailto:njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

**********************************************************************************

July 9, 2012 

By _Pat  Beall_ (http://www.palmbeachpost.com/staff/pat-beall/)  
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer  

The state?s most prolific prescriber of Medicaid-financed oxycodone to the  
poor in 2010 and 2011 has been barred from participating in the taxpayer  
supported health care program, one of 76 such high-volume prescribers 
identified  in a Palm Beach Post investigation. 
Four others, including West Palm physician Dr. John Christensen, are either 
under regulatory scrutiny or have been disciplined for their prescribing  
patterns. 
None wrote more oxycodone prescriptions than Dr. Jorge Leal. The Tampa-area 
anesthesiologist and pain clinic specialist prescribed over 715,000 doses 
of  oxycodone billed to Medicaid over two years ? on average, just under 
1,000 doses  a day. On busy days, Leal?s oxycodone scripts were filled by the 
bushel:  Multiple times, more than 2,000 pills a day were filled by 
pharmacies and billed  to Medicaid; during one 24-hour period, that number topped 
4,000 pills. 
Seven people in Florida die each day from prescription drugs, a 2009 study  
found; oxycodone killed the most. 
Despite state law enforcement?s all-out war on oxycodone abuse, however,  
Medicaid paid for more than 49 million doses of the powerful narcotic 
oxycodone  over a two year period, The Post found. Only 1.3 million adults are  
enrolled in Medicaid. 
The majority of those doses were in the form of oxycodone pills not mixed  
with aspirin or another drug. While effective for relieving severe pain,  
including pain from cancer, such ?undiluted? oxycodone is also favored by  
addicts. 
Leal said through a lawyer that his two pain clinics were among a 
diminishing  number still willing to treat Medicaid patients, which may have 
accounted for  the higher oxycodone dosage figures. ?In this area, Medicaid only has 
one  provider in Pinellas County for pain management, no provider is listed 
for Pasco  County, and only two provider groups are listed in Hillsborough 
County,? pointed  out attorney Jon Pellett. 
Asked about the decision to drop Leal from Medicaid, a spokeswoman with  
Florida?s Agency for Health Care Administration said that the state could cut  
off a physician from the program with 30 days notice without providing 
specific  reasons. 
In addition to Leal, another physician, Dr. Harold Laski of Jacksonville, 
has  had his Medicaid privileges revoked. Laski, who could not be reached for 
comment, wrote prescriptions totaling 105,189 doses of oxycodone. 
Among the other Florida doctors who wrote Medicaid-funded oxycodone  
prescriptions topping 100,000 doses in 2010 and 2011: 
? Partly citing overprescribing, the state Board of Medicine last month  
revoked Dr. John Christensen?s medical license. The West Palm Beach physician  
prescribed 148,367 doses of oxycodone billed to Medicaid in 2010 and 2011. 
? Dr. William Crumbley, who prescribed 173,699 doses of oxycodone, a figure 
that translates to about 260 pills a day, rejected a settlement offer from 
the  Board of Medicine permanently restricting him from prescribing certain 
narcotics, including oxycodone, as well as barring the Tampa-area 
physician from  affiliating with any pain management clinic in Florida. Crumbley was 
arrested  late last year on charges of operating a pain clinic without a 
license. He was  subseqently charged with bringing drugs into jail. He has 
entered a plea of not  guilty. 
? St. Petersburg internist Dr. Fadi Saba is being monitored by the state?s 
Bureau of Medicaid Program Integrity. Saba prescribed a total 110,000 
doses of  oxycodone billed to Medicaid in 2010 and 2011. 
Monitoring, said an ACHA spokeswoman, ?means that there is an open case on  
that provider or (the state) is monitoring prescribing reports to determine 
if  further investigation is warranted.? 
The monitoring information was included in a letter sent earlier this year 
by  state health officials to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. The Iowa 
Republican has  asked states to identify and give him the status of high volume 
prescribers of  certain psychiatric medicines and pain killers billed to 
Medicaid, including  oxycodone. 
In serious cases following monitoring, the doctor can be kicked out of the  
Medicaid program. 
That has not always worked out as planned. For instance, Dr. Robert Reppy 
of  Tampa,a high-volume prescriber, was terminated from the Medicaid program 
on Feb.  24, 2011. 
But beginning the next day and continuing for months afterwards, the doctor?
s  oxycodone prescriptions were still being filled at pharmacies, 
state-provided  data shows. In all, 16,305 doses of oxycodone prescribed after he was 
ousted  from Medicaid were billed to the health care program. 
?We are reviewing the prescriptions for the time period Dr. Reppy was  
inadvertently allowed to prescribe to verify they were medically necessary,?  
confirmed another ACHA spokeswom

***********************************************************************************

July 3, 2012

Texas Dentist pleads guilty to drugs

Nocona dentist pleads guilty to  drugs
Man may have license suspended
    *  Barbara Green/Bowie News 
    *  Times  Record News 

A Nocona dentist has pleaded guilty in 97th District Court to fraudulent  
delivery of a controlled substance/prescription schedule II drug and could 
face  suspension of his license. 
District Attorney Jack McGaughey said David Sears, 49, Nocona, received 10  
years probation and 240 hours of community service in the plea bargain. 
The district attorney said Sears wrote a fictitious prescription for a 
person  who was not a patient and then presented himself as the patient 
collecting the  drugs. 
The plea stems from a May 25, 2011, arrest following an investigation by 
the  district attorney's office. 
Sears has practices in Nocona and Henrietta. 
McGaughey said one of the main thrusts of the plea bargain is that it cost  
Sears his license. The district attorney anticipates with this case, the  
suspension will be enforced. 
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners suspended Sears' license in April 
as part of an "agreed settlement" in connection with a similar February 
2003  drug charge and what the board called "dishonorable conduct." However, 
that  suspension was probated with numerous conditions. 
The TSBDE agreed settlement order states on Feb. 7, 2003, Sears was 
arrested  for the same kind of third-degree felony he pleaded to last week. He 
received  deferred adjudication on a guilty plea with five years probation. The 
findings  state: 
>From July 2, 1990, to June 22, 2011, the dentist fraudulently obtained a 
DEA  registration by failing to disclose his criminal history. 
>From Sept. 1, 2010, to Aug. 19, 2011, the respondent engaged in 
"dishonorable  conduct by improperly possessing and using prescription drugs; 
respondent was  habitually intemperate in the use of hydrocodone." From Jan. 3, 2011, 
to June 9,  2011, the findings cite six instances where the drug was 
prescribed without a  valid dental purpose and states the respondent was 
self-prescribing for personal  use. On June 22, Sears surrendered his DEA 
registration. 
On Aug. 19, 2011, Sears entered a treatment agreement with the Professional 
Recovery Network, which the board agreement states, as of the April date, 
he was  in compliance with the requirements. 
In the agreement, Sears was ordered to continue participation with PRN for  
the duration of the order; surrender his DEA and DPS permits for controlled 
substances; pay an administrative fine of $3,000; take jurisprudence 
assessment;  and abide by the state law, Dental Practice Act, board rules and 
regulations and  any reporting requirements with this order.
_? 2012  Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be 
published,  broadcast, rewritten or redistributed._ 
(http://www.timesrecordnews.com/privacy/)

*******************************************************************************

July 3, 2012


MANSFIELD, OHIO -- A local psychiatrist could receive 20 years in federal prison  
and a $1 million fine if convicted of prescription fraud. 
David Walter Massie, 59, was indicted last week on a single count of  
conspiracy to distribute Oxycontin or oxycodone. 
According to the indictment from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland,  
Massie is accused of writing fraudulent prescriptions outside the course of  
traditional doctor-patient relationships to at least four people, who 
filled  them and illegally distributed them back to Massie for his own personal 
use,  distribution and sale to others. 
'Huge problem'
"Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in the state," U.S. Attorney's  
Office spokesman Mike Tobin said. "It's greatly problematic when you've got 
a  doctor engaged in it. This is an important case for those reasons." 
Four people reportedly involved in the case were patients of Massie, the  
indictment said. In addition to being patients, two of them also worked for  
Massie. None of them have been charged. Tobin declined to say if they would 
be  charged in the future. They were identified in the indictment by their  
initials. 
The probe
Authorities say the crimes began as early as January 2005 and continued  
through July 3, 2007, and involved more than 4,000 pills. Massie is suspected 
of  selling Oxycontin or oxycodone for about $1 per milligram. 
Oxycodone is one of the strongest prescription painkilling substances  
approved for use in the United States and is very addictive. 
According to the indictment, Massie obtained Oxycontin or oxycodone through 
other means in May of this year and sold it. Tobin said he could not say 
how the  investigation started. 
Massie was arrested Thursday with help from the Richland County division of 
the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, METRICH Detective Dawn 
Brown  said. Brown said Massie's license was suspended several years ago. 
According to  the Ohio State Medical Board website, his license expired in July  
2008.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*************************************************************************************

June 27. 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -  
United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced on  Monday, June 25 that a 
former Kanawha County doctor pleaded guilty in federal  court to violating 
federal drug control laws.  
Dr. William J. Casto, 55, currently of Ohio, pleaded  guilty to conspiracy 
to obtain controlled substances by misrepresentation,  fraud, forgery, 
deception and subterfuge. 

Casto admitted that from January 2006 through December 30,  2009, he 
illegally wrote prescriptions for approximately 7020 pills of  hydrocodone and 
oxycodone, and prescriptions for around 3,810 pills of  Xanax. 
Casto had a medical practice in St. Albans, W.Va., at  the time. Casto 
faces up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is  sentenced on 
Sept. 24, 2012.
"Sadly, this is our fifth case in recent months against  doctors or 
pharmacists who broke prescription drug laws," said Goodwin. "Doctors  swear an 
oath to do no harm, so it's especially tragic to see these people  fueling our 
region's worst crime problem. I hope these cases send a message:  There are 
consequences if you abuse your prescription power."

This case is being prosecuted as  part of an ongoing effort led by the 
United States Attorney's Office for the  Southern District of West Virginia to 
combat the illicit sale and misuse of  prescription drugs.

********************************************************************************

June 27, 2012

A former Independence doctor was  sentenced today to six years and three 
months in federal prison for health care  fraud and conspiring to illegally 
distribute prescription drugs.


Bruce Layne Baker also was ordered to forfeit more than $1.1 million in  
proceeds.  
Baker, 55, an osteopath who surrendered his Missouri and Kansas medical  
licenses as part of a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Kansas City,  
provided prescriptions to painkillers like Oxycontin and oxycodone to  
co-conspirators in exchange for kickbacks of pills and cash. 

Read  more here:  
http://www.kansascity.com/2012/06/26/3677234/former-kc-area-doctor-sentenced.html#storylink=cpy

*****************************************************************************

June 26, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- State and federal officers raided the offices of a private 
drug  treatment clinic Tuesday in connection with allegations that drugs were 
being  overprescribed to patients and the doctor in charge, sources close to 
the  investigation said. 
About a dozen agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the California 
Medical  Board and the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs 
executed two  search warrants at the offices of Bay Recovery Center at 4241 Jutland 
Drive in  Bay Park. The agents arrived at about 9 a.m. to interview 
employees and gather  documents. 
Bay Recovery Center is an inpatient treatment center for chronic pain and  
drug dependency, according to Dr. Jerry Rand, the program's director. It has 
24  beds in three homes overlooking Mission Bay. 
In June, an amended complaint was filed against Rand with the California  
Medical Board alleging that he overprescribed drugs to himself and his 
patients,  according to the board's website. The complaint alleges that a woman 
under  Rand's care killed herself at one of the homes in 2008 on her 29th 
birthday.  According to the medical board's report, the woman was given more 
than 70  different drugs in the 36 hours before her suicide. 
Rand's brother and an employee at the center confirmed that a second 
patient  died two weeks ago. 
"I think a lot of it is unwarranted," said Mitch Rand, "(Investigators) 
take  a little thing and blow it into a mountain." 
Rand, a Bay Recovery employee, said Tuesday state and federal authorities  
"just don't like" his brother Jerry. 
"I don't think he over-prescribes to people," Rand explained, "I think he  
gives them a lot less than doctors gave them before they got here. 
"I know they've been investigating our corporation for 20 years," he  
continued, "So they always come up with something." 
Dr. Rand's attorney David Balfour said Tuesday's raids are likely connected 
to the recent patient death. Balfour said his client denies charges of  
over-medicating patients or illegally getting _prescription drugs_ 
(http://www.fox5sandiego.com/topic/health/drugs-medicines/prescription-drugs-HEDAR000001
55.topic)  for himself. 
Balfour said Dr. Rand will go before the California Medical Board in  
October. 
Officers made no arrests during the six searches Tuesday.

**********************************************************************

June 26, 2012

A Central Texas doctor whose son died of an accidental overdose has been  
sentenced to nearly six years in prison in a drug case. 
A federal judge in Austin on Monday sentenced Dr. David James Jacoby. 
The 63-year-old physician in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to 
distribute  controlled substances. Prosecutors say the case involved distribution of 
hydrocodone. 
The defense has said Jacoby is a recovering drug addict whose medical 
license  was suspended last year. 
The body of 24-year-old Brandon Jacoby was discovered in late 2010 in the  
home he shared with his father. The son was on probation for a drug crime.  
Investigators say the emergency room doctor wrote unlawful prescriptions to  
people who knew his son and the scam resulted in the  death.

*****************************************************************************

June 27, 2012

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Rowland Heights doctor accused of 
over-prescribing medications has been  ordered to stand trial for second-degree 
murder in the overdose deaths of three  of her patients.  
The decision on Tuesday by Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria to  
send Dr. Lisa Tseng to trial came after a three-week preliminary hearing 
where  the osteopath was portrayed as the go-to doctor for people seeking 
drugs. 
The case is unusual. Tseng is one of only a handful of doctors nationwide 
to  be charged with murder related to prescription drugs. The Los Angeles 
County  District Attorney has never pursued second-degree murder against a 
doctor for  writing prescriptions. 

There was testimony about a total of 12 of Tseng's patients who died of 
drug  overdoses. A few young men testified under grants of immunity.

She has pleaded not guilty to 24 felony counts and could face 45 years to  
life in prison if convicted on all charges. 
Tseng will be arraigned July 10. She's behind bars with her bail set at $3  
million. 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

********************************************************************************

June 22, 2012 

Although he could barely utter the word guilty, a  57-year-old Roachdale 
physician pled that way Thursday in Putnam Circuit Court.  
Dr. Ray D. Howell, facing 15 felony charges of unlawfully dispensing  
narcotics -- sometimes in exchange for sexual favors -- pled guilty to five of  
those counts in a plea agreement recommended by Putnam County Prosecutor Tim  
Bookwalter and the defendant's attorney, Dennis E. Zahn of Indianapolis.  
Sentencing has been set for 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13.  
Howell, who was arrested Oct. 18 at his Heritage Lake residence, appeared  
before Special Judge Thomas Milligan of Montgomery County in a 
charge-of-plea  hearing in the case.  
When Judge Milligan asked Howell how he pled on each separate count, the  
doctor initially offered only "yes."  
"Do you mean guilty?" Milligan asked Howell, dressed for his court 
appearance  in a short-sleeve blue plaid shirt, gray pants and black-and-silver 
sneakers.  
"Yes," Howell again answered without having to say "guilty" to make that  
point valid.  
"He was not about to say the word 'guilty,' was he?" Prosecutor Bookwalter  
noted after the hearing.  
Howell also became noticeably irritated when he took the witness stand and  
his own attorney ran though the list of counts to which he was pleading 
guilty.  
"Didn't we already cover this once?" Howell asked in his longest statement 
of  the day.  
Throughout the proceedings, the defendant kept his responses to a minimum,  
usually just "yes" or "um, yes."  
But his voice audibly cracked when the judge asked if he understood that 
the  terms of the plea bargain meant he would never again hold a medical 
license.  
"That's one of the most important things," Prosecutor Bookwalter said, 
"that  he's giving up his medical license."  
For all intents and purposes that had already occurred. Dr. Howell ran an  
advertisement in the Banner Graphic classified pages on Oct. 17, indicating 
he  had retired, effective Sept. 30. He also reportedly posted a sign to 
that effect  at his Roachdale office.  
In exchange for the five guilty pleas, the state agreed to dismiss the 
other  10 charges against Howell.  
As part of the plea agreement, Dr. Howell, who has operated Tri-County 
Family  Medical Clinic in Roachdale for more than 20 years, agrees that he may 
never  reapply for his medical license (currently suspended) and Drug 
Enforcement  Administration (DEA) registration "during his natural lifetime."  
Howell pled guilty Thursday to:  
-- Count I, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, a Class D  
felony, dispensing Adipex to an Indiana State Police undercover officer.  
-- Count V, unlawful dispensation of a controlled substance, Oxycodone, in  
excessive amounts to a patient.  
-- Count VI, Unlawful dispensation of a controlled substance, Clonazepam, 
in  excessive amounts to a patient, including such use as to facilitate 
sexual  encounters.  
-- Count XII, Unlawful dispensation of a controlled substance, Oxycodone,  
Methadone and/or Alprazolam to a patient in excessive amounts.  
-- Count XIII, Furnishing false or fraudulent information or knowingly  
omitting information from a controlled substance inventory.  
The doctor's arrest culminated a more than two-year investigation by local, 
state and federal authorities into his alleged reckless dispensing of 
narcotics  and pain medication.  
The drugs Howell allegedly overprescribed or unnecessarily prescribed  
included Oxycodone, Methodone, Adipex, Clonazepam, Lortab, Vicodin, Alprazolam,  
Xanax, Percocet and Hydrocodone.  
The investigation also yielded reports of several incidents of alleged 
sexual  encounters with a number of female patients to whom he had reportedly 
prescribed  excessive doses of controlled substances.  
Nine female patients were interviewed by investigators with six reporting  
unwanted sexual advances or actual sexual acts allegedly occurring as a 
result  of visits to Howell's office.  
At least three of the original counts alleged that the excessive amounts of 
controlled substances he prescribed were ostensibly written "to facilitate 
sexual encounters."  
Bookwalter indicated sentencing will require at least two hours of 
courtroom  time. He plans to call on patients affected by both Howell's purported 
reckless  prescription writing and his sexual advances.  
"I consider this a serious case," the prosecutor said, "because in the last 
18 months, prescription drug abuse has overshadowed meth in our 
community."  
Officials from the DEA are also expected to testify concerning the number 
of  prescriptions Dr. Howell was writing, a figure that topped 11,000 per 
year at  one point.  
"When I first saw those numbers, I didn't believe them," Bookwalter 
admitted  Thursday.  
But the investigation intensified after pharmacists in Greencastle, 
Danville  and Crawfordsville refused to fill Dr. Howell's prescriptions and 
investigators  saw a pattern of out-of-county patients "coming to tiny, little 
Roachdale" to  get excessive amounts of prescription medication.  
Authorities noted that they were seeing vehicles with Fayette County 
license  plates "every day of the week in Roachdale."  
Dr. Howell could receive a maximum of five years on each of the five 
separate  counts to which he has pled guilty.  
The plea agreement also indicates he agrees to pay restitution in an amount 
currently undetermined to any victim or victims.
? _Copyright  2012_ (http://www.bannergraphic.com/help/legal)  Greencastle  
Banner-Graphic. All rights reserved. This material may not be  published, 
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

*****************************************************************************

June 22, 2012

A Paducah doctor has pleaded not guilty to 11 drug trafficking charges and 
is  still working and taking new patients as he prepares for trial. 
Dr. Troy Nelson entered the plea Thursday in McCracken Circuit Court to 
seven  felony and four misdemeanor counts of trafficking in a controlled 
substance. 





Nelson's lawyer, Mark Bryant, filed a motion to obtain records from the  
Kentucky All-Schedule Prescription Reporting system to learn about the  
individuals who made the allegations against his client. 
"Why we're asking for it is to find out about the people making these  
accusations about him and try and find out what the evidence shows about Dr.  
Nelson," Bryant said. 
Circuit Judge Tim Kaltenbach set a hearing on the request for Friday. 
Bryant told The Paducah Sun ( _http://bit.ly/KRbMss_ (http://bit.ly/KRbMss
) his client knows who the  accusers are, but doesn't know any other 
details surrounding the allegations. He  said he had to file a motion to obtain 
the records because of privacy  restrictions under the federal Health 
Insurance Portability and Accountability  Act. 
Nelson owns and runs a medical practice in Paducah, where he has worked as 
a  general practitioner for years. Bryant said Nelson did not stop 
practicing or  taking patients after a grand jury indicted him June 1. 
Prosecutors say Nelson illegally sold or distributed drugs, including  
oxycodone and hydrocodone to seven people in exchange for personal favors from  
Sept. 9, 2010, through Oct. 30, 2011. 
___ 
Information from: The Paducah Sun,  http://www.paducahsun.com

****************************************************************************

June 22, 2012  
_Psychologist charged in drug fraud case_ 
(http://normantranscript.com/headlines/x399013343/Psychologist-charged-in-drug-fraud-case
By  Joel Pruett_The Norman  Transcript_ (http://normantranscript.com/) _The 
Norman Transcript_ (http://normantranscript.com/) Fri Jun  22, 2012, 01:54 
AM CDT 

NORMAN ? County prosecutors on Thursday charged a psychologist in 
connection  with an attempt to acquire a controlled substance by fraud. 
Dr. Melanie Camille Talley, 40, of Oklahoma City, was charged Thursday with 
one felony count of attempting to obtain controlled substance by fraud. 
Prosecutors allege that Talley acted in concert with Stacy Khaki to fill a  
fraudulent prescription for Adderall at a Moore Walgreens. Talley has 
offices in  Oklahoma City and Moore. 
According to the probable cause affidavit: 
? Moore police arrived at the 1041 SW 19th pharmacy on June 20 to 
reportedly  find Talley ?attempting to coerce the drugist to give her the 
prescription.? 
? Talley allegedly said the script was written by Dr. Benjamin Quimbao.  
Police say Quimbao denied writing the script. 
? Police say Talley reported ?she was battling some issues and had been  
medicating herself.? 
According to the Oklahoma Board of Examiners of Psychologists? website,  
Talley?s primary office is at Putnam North Family Medical Center, 11220 N.  
Rockwell Ave. in Oklahoma City. 
A medical center official said her office had not been made aware of the  
charges but takes them very seriously. She declined further comment. 
The board?s website also shows that Talley has secondary offices at  
Silverleaf Counseling Services, 10015 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Suite A, in Oklahoma  
City, and at Moore-Norman Psychiatry Group, 604 South Classen, Suite C, in  
Moore. Officials at Talley?s secondary offices could not be reached for  
comment. 
An official of the board of examiners said Talley has held an Oklahoma  
psychologist?s license since 2009. 
The board official said a conviction on the charges would lead to a formal  
board complaint. The board would investigate the incident, potentially 
leading  to a revocation or suspension of Talley?s license. 
A jail official said Talley was booked into the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention  
Center on Wednesday and bonded out the same day. 
Talley, who had not been arraigned by Thursday afternoon, had a preliminary 
bond of $5,000. 
According to the affidavit, a warrant has been filed for Khaki?s arrest.  
Charges were not filed on Thursday for Khaki, court officials  said.

****************************************************************************

By Associated Press,  Published: June 4 | Updated: Tuesday, June 5, 3:47  
AMAP




LOS ANGELES ? A prosecutor said a California  doctor facing rare murder 
charges in the drug deaths of three men under her care  said she knew three 
previous patients had died from drug overdoses. 
At a preliminary hearing set to resume Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney 
John  Niedermann cited the other deaths, which he said would show a pattern of 
behavior by Dr. Hsui-Ying ?Lisa? Tseng.


?It put her on notice that the prescriptions she was providing  were 
leading to deaths,? Niedermann said at the abbreviated Monday session of  the 
hearing to determine whether Tseng will stand trial.



Tseng sat at the counsel table clad in an orange jail jumpsuit with 
shackles  at her ankles as the first witness, her former office receptionist, 
testified  about the workings of her busy medical office in Rowland Heights. 
No charges were filed in those earlier drug overdoses, which Tseng learned  
about in 2007 and 2008, but the prosecution seeks to use them as evidence  
against her. She is charged in the deaths of three young men who allegedly  
overdosed after receiving prescriptions from her for painkillers and  
anti-anxiety medications. 
She is charged with second-degree murder and could be sentenced to 45 years 
to life in prison if convicted. 
Tseng has pleaded not guilty to 24 felony counts. Authorities allege she  
wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over a three-year period. She is among 
only  a handful of doctors nationwide to be charged with murder related to  
prescription drugs. 
Tseng was represented by five attorneys, an indication of the seriousness 
of  the case. 
She has been in custody since her arrest in March. She is being held on $3  
million bail in spite of her attorneys? previous arguments that she is a 
mother  of small children who has ties to her community. The judge refused to 
reduce her  bail at that time. 
In the courtroom audience was the mother of one of the young men who died.  
April Rovero?s son, Joey, died after receiving prescriptions from Tseng. 
The  21-yearold University of Arizona student drove to California with friends 
to get  prescriptions from Tseng in 2009. 
April Rovero founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug 
Abuse.  She promised to be in court every day. 
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may 
not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

*******************************************************************************

Friday May 25, 2012 
Doctor faces prison for  prescriptions
Mingo physician pleads guilty to  illegally prescribing painkillers
by _Ashley B. Craig_ 
(http://www.dailymail.com/policebrfs/contact/nfuyrl.penvt+qnvylznvy+pbz+return=/policebrfs/201205240225
Daily Mail staff

Charleston Daily Mail
A former Mingo County physician admitted to writing prescriptions for 
people  she had never examined in exchange for cash. 
Records indicate that Dr. Diane E. Shafer, 60, wrote more than 118,000  
prescriptions for controlled substances between 2003 and 2010, federal  
authorities said.  
"Though she was a solo practitioner, Shafer, by herself, wrote more  
prescriptions for controlled substances than several West Virginia hospitals did  
during that period," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a statement.  
Shafer pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement  
Agency number before U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver. She faces up to 
four  years in prison.  
Shafer admitted she provided prescriptions to people who came to her  
Williamson practice with money in hand.  
Shafer wrote prescriptions for drugs like hydrocodone or the anti-anxiety  
drug Xanax without conducting a medical examination.  
"It's disgraceful when a physician abuses his or her position of trust to  
engage in conduct that ultimately destroys families and communities," 
Goodwin  said. "I have zero tolerance for doctors or pharmacists who use their  
prescription power to victimize the vulnerable.  
"I'm going to continue investigating and prosecuting them as aggressively 
as  I know how, and we're going to keep making progress in the battle against 
prescription drug abuse."  
Shafer admitted that from January 2009 until December 2010 she left signed, 
undated prescriptions in patient charts and in other locations at her 
Second  Avenue office. 
She directed certain employees to keep the office open in her absence and 
to  distribute the prescriptions. On the days she was not at the office, she 
said  she did not know who was receiving the prescriptions. 

A former Mingo County physician admitted to writing prescriptions for 
people  she had never examined in exchange for cash. 
Records indicate that Dr. Diane E. Shafer, 60, wrote more than 118,000  
prescriptions for controlled substances between 2003 and 2010, federal  
authorities said.  
"Though she was a solo practitioner, Shafer, by herself, wrote more  
prescriptions for controlled substances than several West Virginia hospitals did  
during that period," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a statement.  
Shafer pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement  
Agency number before U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver. She faces up to 
four  years in prison.  
Shafer admitted she provided prescriptions to people who came to her  
Williamson practice with money in hand.  
Shafer wrote prescriptions for drugs like hydrocodone or the anti-anxiety  
drug Xanax without conducting a medical examination.  
"It's disgraceful when a physician abuses his or her position of trust to  
engage in conduct that ultimately destroys families and communities," 
Goodwin  said. "I have zero tolerance for doctors or pharmacists who use their  
prescription power to victimize the vulnerable.  
"I'm going to continue investigating and prosecuting them as aggressively 
as  I know how, and we're going to keep making progress in the battle against 
prescription drug abuse."  
Shafer admitted that from January 2009 until December 2010 she left signed, 
undated prescriptions in patient charts and in other locations at her 
Second  Avenue office. 
She directed certain employees to keep the office open in her absence and 
to  distribute the prescriptions. On the days she was not at the office, she 
said  she did not know who was receiving the prescriptions.  
Investigators searched Shafer's practice and found it would have been  
"physically impossible" for her to examine patients on examining tables,  
according to a separate civil filing. She told investigators she examined her  
patients "at another location."  
During normal business hours, a line of waiting clients would stretch out 
of  the office and down the sidewalk, investigators said.  
One patient told investigators Shafer ran patients through her office "like 
cattle," performing little to no examination or medical tests other than 
taking  the patient's weight.  
The state Board of Pharmacists' report on Shafer in 2009 revealed that her  
patients filled more than 17,065 prescriptions that year.  
State Police seized patient registers showing that the office was open only 
four days a week and that Shafer saw an average of 130 patients per day.  
Shafer graduated from the Temple University School of Medicine in  
Philadelphia and was licensed as a physician in West Virginia in 1980. Her  primary 
specialty is orthopedics and her secondary specialty is emergency  medicine. 

In addition to prison time, Shafer also faces a fine of up to $250,000 when 
she is sentenced on Aug. 24. She is free on bond.  
This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by Goodwin's 
office  to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.  
The investigation was led by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, 
State  Police and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the 
Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Frail handled prosecution.

**********************************************************************************

May 14, 2012

Pinallis County, Florida

One day last spring, Dr. Sanjeev Grover pulled into a Burger King parking 
lot  near his home in Lutz. ? A former patient had arranged a meeting. The 
doctor got  into the man's car and handed over four prescriptions he wrote for 
the  painkiller oxycodone ? 240 pills, 80 milligrams each. ? Grover had not 
examined  the man beforehand. That made the prescriptions illegal. The 
former patient gave  him $2,000 in cash. 
They met again and again over the next few months. Grover gave him at least 
36 prescriptions. In all, more than 5,000 pills. The doctor got $10,000. 
Grover didn't know it, but the man was a Drug Enforcement Administration  
informer. 
In October, agents arrived at Grover's home and slipped handcuffs around 
his  wrists. His arrest ? along with several other doctors dealing 
prescriptions and  pain pills ? was announced by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 
Tampa. 
Grover lost his medical license. He took a plea deal and will be sentenced 
in  a Tampa courtroom today. He faces up to 20 years in prison. 
Once, Grover had a fellowship at prestigious Duke University. He was a  
university professor. He treated cancer patients. 
So how did he go from being a respected doctor to dealing pills outside a  
fast food restaurant? 
The answer is simple: greed.  
Grover, 49, pleaded guilty in March to federal charges of dispensing and  
distributing oxycodone. 
He recently agreed to an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, offering  a 
seldom-heard perspective about a prescription drug epidemic that kills an  
average of eight people a day in Florida. 
"I don't believe in hiding myself anymore," he said. "Barring what has  
happened and what will happen to me ? I still want to let the public know 
what's  going on." 
Grover said he didn't set out to be a pill mill doctor. He never wanted to 
be  a physician at all. 
He was born in Boston in 1963. His father, a medical researcher, moved the  
family to India in the 1970s.  
Grover said he loved writing and movies and envisioned a career in the 
arts.  His parents had other plans. He attended high school and medical school 
in  India. He returned to the United States in the late 1980s. 
He attended Philadelphia's Albert Einstein Medical Center in the mid 1990s  
and Duke for an oncology fellowship. He became an assistant professor at 
the  West Virginia University School of Medicine. He helped open a children's  
oncology unit. 
A few years later, he was ready to slow down. He wanted to spend more time  
with his wife and children. Today, his son is in college and his daughter 
is in  high school. 
The family moved to Florida in 2004, so Grover could take over a pediatric  
practice. He inherited more than 200 patients. 
But Grover struggled to pay the bills. Overhead was high. Competition was  
heavy. He closed the business in 2008. His family lost its home. 
He didn't work for months. He considered going into research. He tried  
writing a screenplay. 
Then, he said, a pharmacist called with an offer to work at a pain clinic 
in  Zephyrhills. 
Grover had experience helping cancer patients manage pain. He thought it 
was  a perfect fit. 
But this is what he found: Cars with license plates from all over the 
country  packed into the parking lot. Patients complaining of the same ailments ? 
a bad  back, a sore neck. They never stayed longer than 10 minutes or so. 
"I realized ? these people are addicts," Grover said. "That was my first  
eye-opening moment." 
But the money was good.  
Grover said he made about $5,000 a week. That income grew when he agreed to 
the Burger King deals. 
"I was like a robot," he said. "I sold scripts for money because I was  
greedy." 
? ? ? 
In December 2010, a recruiter told Grover about a pain-management clinic in 
Palm Harbor.  
He says people at Whitney Enterprises told him they wanted to turn it into 
a  legitimate general practitioner's office, a place where parents could 
take their  kids for physicals. Grover thought that sounded like a nice change. 

But it was more of the same. Same out-of-state visitors. Same short visits. 
Same craving for pills. 
He felt even more guilt. It wore on him. 
"I was changing," he said. "I was becoming short with people. I was angry 
all  the time, frustrated." 
In July 2011, Grover said, he picked up a newspaper and read a front-page  
article about a Clearwater native who died from a drug overdose. 
Jamie Lynne Godette, 23, was prescribed oxycodone for back problems while 
in  high school. 
Her mother, Lynne Knowles, 49, said she didn't realize her daughter was  
addicted until well after graduation.  
"I found her in a Walgreens bathroom with a needle in her arm," she said.  
Grover said Godette once came to him for pain pills. He remembers her  
clearly. She was a young woman with bright eyes. He thought she was smart, that  
she didn't belong in a pain clinic. 
Grover said he offered Godette help to get clean. But she never returned. 
He said his "heart stopped" when he read about her death. 
Grover heard of another patient's overdose a couple of months later. 
Manuel Valdes, 30, of Spring Hill, was found unresponsive in his home Sept. 
26. An autopsy revealed he died of "multidrug toxicity." The 
Pinellas-Pasco  Medical Examiner's Office found oxycodone, morphine and Xanax in his 
system ?  and pill bottles with Grover's name on them. 
Grover said he remembers prescribing Valdes pills about a week before his  
death. 
Though he was shaken by the deaths, he kept on scribbling prescriptions. 
"I was under pressure to see as many (patients) as I could," he said. "I  
really felt inside, I'm not helping anyone. I was killing them." 
Knowles said Grover will have to live with that guilt, but she doesn't 
harbor  any anger toward him. "To me there is no greater pain than that," she 
said. 
? ? ? 
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spent 20 months investigating Whitney  
Enterprises. The state shut down the clinic in January. 
Tampa lawyer Dale Sisco, who represents the clinic's owner, said Grover's  
allegations about the business "aren't worth responding to." 
"Dr. Grover is clearly trying to help himself in terms of sentencing," 
Sisco  said. "His credibility is questionable when he's selling prescription 
pads in a  Burger King parking lot. This smacks of self-interest." 
But Grover says he is motivated to speak publicly because he wants people 
to  know more about this issue. 
Though Grover says law enforcement has made progress fighting prescription  
drug abuse, he thinks the crisis will continue as long as there are doctors 
willing to do what he did. 
He said pill mills are re-opening as weight-loss or injury centers to get  
authorities off their tails. Law enforcement will have to adjust, he said. 
He  also thinks pain clinics should face random inspections by health 
officials. 
Most of all, he thinks people need to understand how widespread the 
addiction  is. He called the crisis a "medical debacle," and said there's no reason 
doctors  should be prescribing someone so many types of narcotics. 
Since his arrest, Grover has spent his days at home ? a two-story house  
tucked in a tiny subdivision named Reflections ? writing public service  
announcements about prescription drug abuse. 
He said he hopes someone will get to see them some day. 
"To this day, I'm haunted by the memory of these young kids dying," he 
said.  "I'm haunted by the fact that I fed into a system that's totally 
corrupted, and  now it's too late. 
"Forget my life. It's done. But I think there is a way out of it." 
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley  
can be reached at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " href="mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " style="text-decoration: underline; color: rgb(35, 71, 134); outline: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; text-align: -webkit-auto; "> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or (727) 893-8643.


By the numbers 
8 Average number of Floridians a day who die of prescription drug  abuse. 
217 Number of deaths in Pinellas County in 2011. 
122 Deaths in Pasco. 
226 Deaths in Hillsborough. 
$17 Approximate street price of one 

30-milligram oxycodone  pill. 
112,000 Number of oxycodone pills the average Florida pharmacy  distributes 
annually. Nationwide, the average is  74,000.

*********************************************************************************

May 14, 2012

Los Gatos doctor started  drug-dealing operation, DA says

By Mike Rosenberg

After 35 years in medicine, a Los Gatos doctor is facing  serious criminal 
trouble for charging drug addicts $100 a bottle for  prescription 
painkillers, which they resold and abused -- including one  "patient" who overdosed 
and died, prosecutors said Monday.