Missouri and Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Cautions Physicians That Wrongdoing Can Lead to Criminal Charges

The Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) investigates all manner of narcotics-related crimes. Their investigations are not limited to the distribution of street drugs. The DEA regulations require healthcare professionals who prescribe medications to register with the agency before lawfully prescribing medications.  The DEA also investigates allegations of criminal wrongdoing by doctors and other prescribers who abuse their prescription writing privileges. Not every abuse of prescription writing privileges leads to criminal charges. However, egregious conduct will result in an arrest, prosecution, and perhaps imprisonment.  In fact, several physicians in Missouri and Kansas were prosecuted for abusing their prescribing privileges. Not every healthcare professional went to jail, but each one lost their prescription writing privileges and surrendered their DEA registration. Professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger counsels maintaining the highest ethical standards in the practice of medicine will prevent abuse of privileges.

In 2009, the DEA arrested a Topeka, KS physician for distribution of schedule II drugs and acquiring drugs by misrepresentation or fraud. The physician pleaded guilty to both counts. The court sentenced the physician to three years (3) probation and prohibited the physician from practicing medicine during the probationary period as well as ordered the physician to complete 300 hours of community service. The government alleged that the physician wrote prescriptions to people who were not patients. Furthermore, the prescriptions were not intended for legitimate medical conditions. Instead, the doctor wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and amphetamine to his friends. His friends, in turn, gave the drugs back to the doctor for personal use. The prescriptions were used during parties at the doctor’s house. Incidentally, the physician officially retired from practicing medicine before his arrest.

A St. Joseph, MO physician was arrested in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance. The physician pleaded guilty in county court. The court placed the physician on probation for three (3) years. The court ordered the physician to complete drug treatment as ordered by the probation department and perform 100 hours of community service.  The physician told the court that he possessed the controlled substance after working a 24-hour shift at a hospital. The physician took fentanyl from the hospital. The physician administered the drug to himself to combat stress and fatigue. The physician surrendered his DEA registration two months after he stole the fentanyl.

In 2005, a federal jury sitting in Missouri found a physician guilty of 176 counts of unlawful distribution of certain narcotics. The government alleged that the 1,729,845 pills the physician prescribed over a two-year period were not prescribed for legitimate reasons. The federal judge sentenced the physician, who was 79 years of age, to sixteen months incarceration followed by two years of supervised release. The judge ordered the physician to pay a $75,000 fine and a $17,600 criminal assessment.  The physician surrendered his DEA registration three months before his arrest.

Also in 2003, a Kansas City, KS doctor of osteopathy pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy and four counts of using an invalid or revoked DEA registration number. The doctor of osteopathy and others agreed to dispense several narcotics including oxycodone and Oxycontin. The doctor of osteopathy wrote those prescriptions for an illegitimate purpose. The federal judge sentenced the doctor to 5 years incarceration with three years of supervised release. The doctor surrendered his DEA registration in 2001, almost two years before his arrest on these charges.

Another Kansas physician was sent to jail for writing prescriptions for fictitious patients. The U.S. District Court sentenced the physician to 30 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute 30,000 units of hydrocodone. The physician claimed he intended to use the pills for himself. The physician surrendered his DEA registration two days after his arrest on these charges.

Personal abuse of narcotics by physicians can also lead to jail and loss of prescription writing privileges.  In 2008, a Missouri physician pleaded guilty to use of drug paraphernalia and driving while intoxicated by drugs. The court sentenced the physician to 24 months of probation and 50 hours of community service. The physician surrendered his DEA registration a few months after his arrest.

Criminal Conduct Leads To Professional Discipline

Most of the criminal conduct discussed above was caused by personal drug use. If you are abusing drugs, get help. Getting the necessary treatment can help you fight disciplinary charges resulting from criminal conduct. Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger zealously represents professional licensees in Missouri and Kansas. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation and learn how her years of experience can help you put your life back together.