Medical providers in South Carolina and elsewhere try to do what they believe is best for their patients. In doing so, though, they sometimes cross lines that can have criminal consequences. If convicted, those consequences can be severe.
Recently, a doctor in a nearby state received a prison sentence for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs to his patients. While his punishment seems harsh, it could have been far worse.
The doctor — a 48-year-old male — once practiced at the Neurology & Pain Center, PLLC, in Charleston, W. Va. According to a recently published report, his alleged crime was distributing various drugs to patients throughout his career without documenting any medical need for them. He was initially detained and charged for illegal distribution in July 2018. He has been in jail ever since.
His case first went to trial in May 2019, but the court ultimately declared a mistrial because of a hung jury. A month later, a new indictment that included 43 charges was issued. Rather than going through another trial, in August 2019, the accused accepted a plea deal in which he agreed to:
- Plead guilty to one count of illegal drug distribution.
- Permanently surrender his medical license.
- Permanently surrender his DEA registration.
- Spend time in prison.
- Endure three years of supervised release post-prison sentence.
- Forfeit his car and a large sum of money.
Had his case gone to trial and he lost on all counts, he would have received a considerably longer prison sentence, among other penalties.
Lessons from this case
First, prescription drug crimes are serious, not only at the state level but at the federal level as well. Second, charges are the result of allegations, not proof of guilt. Being charged with an offense does not mean prosecuting attorneys will be able to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Third, seeking a plea deal makes sense in certain cases.
Don’t fight alone
It is highly unlikely that the doctor in this case took on the criminal court system on his own. He likely turned to a criminal defense attorney who has experience tackling federal cases to help him achieve the best possible outcome. Medical professionals in South Carolina who find themselves facing criminal charges for any type of healthcare-related crime can do the same.