On Sept. 20, a doctor in California was convicted of 17 felony charges of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances without a medical need. A jury took two hours to deliberate before reaching a guilty verdict. At his upcoming sentencing hearing, the 44-year-old Rancho Palos Verdes doctor could be sent to prison for as long as 13 years and four months.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration built a case against the general practitioner by sending undercover operatives to his clinic in 2014. During a three-month timespan, the operatives obtained several illegal drug prescriptions for medications such as Norco, Xanax, Soma and Adderall. The doctor was indicted for the felony drug charges in 2015.
According to a deputy district attorney, the accused doctor asked his patients to bring him old medical charts and X-rays that could be used to justify the need for a certain prescription drug. He would then write prescriptions without examining the patients or filling out any new medical charts. One of the undercover operatives reportedly presented the doctor with an X-ray that was taken of a dog in order to obtain an illegal prescription.
An attorney representing a doctor who has been charged with writing fraudulent prescriptions might argue that the defendant was not aware that the patient was using the medication for non-medical purposes. People who are addicted to prescription medication might make false statements to a doctor about the level of their pain or anxiety. An attorney might help a doctor combat the charges by presenting evidence of patient assessments and physical exams.
Source: Palos Verdes Patch, "Rancho Palos Verdes Doctor Convicted in Prescription Drug Case," Sept. 21, 2016