Physicians and drug charges: 9 headlines in 15 days

Here are seven physicians who were arrested, charged, convicted or sentenced for illegal distribution of controlled substances since Oct. 25. 

1. St. Augustine, Fla.-based physician Scott Andrew Hollington, MD, was charged with 10 counts of distribution of controlled substances. Dr. Hollington, 57, who also faces one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, allegedly distributed and dispensed Schedule II,III and IV drugs, including amphetamine, buprenorphine, benzodiazepine and alprazolam, without a legitimate medical purpose.

2. Merideth Norris, DO, of Kennebunk, Maine, was arrested for allegedly illegal distribution of opioids and other substances. Dr. Norris, 52, allegedly prescribed opioids outside the course of professional practice and is now banned from prescribing any Schedule II-V controlled substances as a condition of her release. 

3. Brookfield, Wis.-based pediatrician Manuel Thomas was sentenced to 18 months in prison for unlawfully distributing controlled substances. Dr. Thomas provided opiates to patients he knew were addicted to controlled substances in exchange for cash and pills for his own personal use, according to a news release from the Justice Department. 

4. Douglas, Ga.-based physician Wallace Steven Anderson, MD, was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting to participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy. Dr. Anderson, the owner of Steve Anderson, PC, and Steve Anderson Behavioral Health, admitted that from Feb. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2020, his pain management facilities distributed alprazolam, temazepam and clonazepam for nonlegitimate medical purposes. He provided pre-signed refill prescriptions before any patient examinations. 

5. Mansfield, La.-based physician Jeffrey Evans Jr., MD, and Debra Craig, a licensed practical nurse, were indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally obtaining and distributing opioids and Adderall. From January 2014 to March 2022, Dr. Evans and Ms. Craig, who worked at Dr. Evans' office in Mansfield, allegedly conspired to obtain hydrocodone and Adderall by fraud. According to the indictment, Dr. Evans would write prescriptions to an unnamed person and Ms. Craig would fill the prescriptions and then provide the drugs to Dr. Evans. 

6. Texarkana, Ark.-based Lonnie Joseph Parker, MD, was convicted for prescribing opioids without a legitimate medical purpose. In 2018, the DEA and the Little Rock District Office began an investigation into Dr. Parker after receiving complaints about a suspected pill mill. The investigation found Dr. Parker was overprescribing opioids, benzodiazepines, and promethazine with codeine cough syrup. 

7. New York physician Ahmad Mehdi, MD, is paying $900,000 to settle civil claims over alleged improper opioid prescribing and fraudulent billing. Dr. Mehdi, who operates in Groton and Tully, admitted to upcoding some services to get higher reimbursement rates from federal healthcare programs between January 2012 and September 2018, the Justice Department said. The settlement also resolves allegations that he improperly prescribed opioids to three patients between April 2018 and December 2020.

8. Thomas Keller, MD, was convicted on four counts for distribution of controlled substances out of his Santa Rosa, Calif.-based pain management practice. Dr. Keller distributed substances including oxycodone, carisoprodol and diazepam outside the scope of his professional practice.

9. Lafayette, La.-based physician Robert Cao, MD, has pleaded guilty to five felony counts of unlawful controlled substance distributions. Dr. Cao prescribed various narcotic pain medications in the months leading up to an overdose death of a patient last year in Falls Church, Va., where Dr. Cao was previously based. 

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