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Feds charge doctor with drug crimes for improper prescriptions

In California and every other state, the authorities regularly file drug charges against doctors who they believe have written improper prescriptions and over-prescribed pain killers and other substances. In most of these cases, the defendant charged with drug crimes finds it fruitless to defend, because they usually have the patients testifying against them. That is often because the patients are either co-defendants looking for leniency or because they have agreed to testify against the doctor to keep themselves out of trouble.

Some cases, however, are defended by doctors who argue that they were acting properly, or that they were manipulated by the patients to write prescriptions under harrowing or fraudulent circumstances. In those cases, it will depend on the degree of knowledge and involvement that the state can prove against the doctor. In northern California, a Napa family doctor was arrested for writing allegedly unnecessary prescriptions to a woman who then purportedly collected about $1.3 million in reimbursements for the drugs from Medicare.

The federal charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco. The indictment also claims that the doctor wrote other prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone. The doctor had lost his license about three years ago for similar alleged violations, but is accused in the indictment of writing prescriptions after his license was suspended.

There are some defenses that doctors may typically raise in similar drug crimes cases. In many instances, the patients involved are serious addicts who are accustomed to lying and using trickery to obtain medications, particularly pain pills. Some doctors on the more naïve side can fall easy prey to such deception. In this case, the doctor is over 70 years old, making him an even greater target. There do not appear to be any allegations here that the doctor gained financially from any activities, thus making it easier to defend the case on the lack of criminal intent.

Source:, "Former Napa doctor indicted on fraud, drug charges", Dec. 24, 2014

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