Murray doctor pleads guilty to illegally prescribing controlled substances

Crime

FILE – This July 23, 2018 file photo shows packets of buprenorphine, a drug which controls heroin and opioid cravings, in Greenfield, Mass. In a study that appears Monday, June 3, 2019, in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers posing as heroin users seeking help contacted hundreds of treatment clinics in U.S. states with the highest overdose death rates. The “secret shoppers” were denied appointments much of the time, especially if they said they were insured through Medicaid. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – A doctor known for operating an outpatient program in Murray has pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing controlled substances.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah says 43-year-old Dr. Nick Greenwood of Greenwood Addiction Physicians pleaded guilty to one felony count of distributing a schedule III narcotic for a non-legitimate medical purpose outside of the standards of a medical practice.

Officials say that, in the plea agreement, Greenwood admitted that he intentionally prescribed and distributed Buprenorphine, a schedule III controlled substance, to a purported patient knowing the prescription was for a non-legitimate medical purpose and was outside the standards of medical practice.

He has been ordered to serve 24 months of probation and to pay a $500 fine.

In addition, Greenwood has entered into a consent agreement in order to resolve a civil complaint related to his unlawful practice of prescribing controlled substances from his Murray office.

According to court officials, a federal court in Utah has entered a consent judgment and permanent injunction ordering Greenwood to permanently cease dispensing opioids or other controlled substances and to pay $500,000 in civil penalties.

In the civil complaint, federal authorities allege several confidential sources who were working for the DEA obtained prescriptions for Buprenorphine by simply asking Greenwood for them. Sources say they received dozens of prescriptions for hundreds of pills without ever receiving any medical treatment.

In most cases, sources say they paid cash for prescriptions they picked up from Greenwood’s office staff that were pre-written and signed.

When Greenwood did see these sources, they say he offered no treatment, allowed the sources to bargain for prescriptions, and coached them on how to trade and sell the opioids he prescribed them.

According to court authorities, the confidential sources alleged Greenwood followed the same pattern with other customers and wrote prescriptions for dangerous combinations and for doses far in excess of those needed for proper treatment while ignoring urinalysis tests and writing prescriptions for a form of medication more susceptible to abuse.

“Healthcare professionals should be looked upon as heroes. Unfortunately, in this matter the physician abused his position of trust, and cast a shadow on the profession,” says United States Attorney John W. Huber. “The addiction epidemic continues to cause despair in American homes and communities. In partnership with the DEA, we will bring accountability to those who exploit the vulnerable.

“This investigation highlights the cooperative efforts between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and members of the DEA Salt Lake City District Office in combatting the illegal distribution of controlled substances in Utah, says DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Tinkler. The DEA is committed to ensuring that those individuals prescribing regulated medications do so in a safe and legal manner.”

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