Friday, August 4, 2017

'I Was Wrongfully Convicted': A Pain Management Specialist Speaks Out


Doctor Alleges She Was Targeted by the Federal Government,
Creates YouTube Video to Warn Colleagues They Could Be Next 


By Linda S. Cheek, MD 

The Controlled Substance Act was written to prosecute drug cartels, not doctors. It is being used illegally, as shown by the statutes and the case law from the Supreme Court. We must stop this government overreach into medicine. 

On Feb 28, 2006, federal agents entered my office with a search warrant based on healthcare fraud—a violation of the Fourth Amendment because there was no cause. The records confiscated were mostly self-pay and privately insured patients and all of the records were pain management patients. One of the records was a privately insured patient who died in 1998, but his death was not treatment related.

The Western District of Virginia has been on the forefront of the attacks on doctors. Although not the first, they are consistent, always having a doctor under investigation. My lawyer told me that six jobs in the US Attorney’s office are specifically designated to attack doctors. Dr. Cecil Knox was the first in the area to go to trial in 2002. Dr. Alvis Perry left the area during his investigation. Dr. Knox’s case ended January 19, 2006 and on Feb 28, 2006, my office was raided. My case kept the office busy until 2013. After me, it was Dr. Stephen Collins and now the target is Dr. David Morgan.

Although I was not guilty of knowingly committing any healthcare fraud, any doctor can be charged with it. It is a “door-opener”, allowing them entrance into any clinic where they confiscate records and then construct a case against the targeted doctor. In my case, they could find nothing to charge me with pertaining to my pain management, even the death of the patient in 1998. So they used six visits where my nurse practitioners had billed to my Medicare number when I was at a conference in Canada. It was our understanding of the law that those billings were appropriate and the overcharge was a maximum of $66 anyway. But once the government has a doctor picked out to attack, they don’t drop the case. Does a $66 over-billing warrant two years of salaries for six people working for the government? I don’t think so.

At the time, it was my understanding that there was a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for Medicare fraud. I had no income at the time, no way to pay for a defense, and a husband with two physical disabilities—cerebral palsy and blindness—who could not live without me for 20 years, so I accepted a plea agreement where I was supposed to get six months-probation. However, US Attorney John Brownlee, attempting to get a judgeship appointment, had the AUSA Pat Hogeboom add multiple charges of fraud at the 12th hour, after I had signed the plea, pertaining to my alternative medical treatments that were never charged to insurance. But I proceeded with the plea in May, 2008.

The other doctors in the area were afraid to take my patients, with the line of doctors being attacked. I found a retired physician who was willing to set up a small practice (no advertisement—just word of mouth) to help the patients running out of medications. She practiced alone from September, 2008 to February, 2009. My license was reinstated Feb, 2009 and I applied for reinstatement of my DEA certificate. However, my application was stonewalled, with no explanation. To show the collusion between the medical boards and the government, I found out that a member of the Board of Pharmacy was going all over the area querying pharmacists about prescriptions from our office. Dr. Schultz continued to evaluate and prescribe the controlled drugs needed. But the government had plans to continue my persecution.

They raided my office again in June, 2010, forced Dr. Schultz to turn over her DEA certificate in October, 2011, and patients were again without treatment. I then elicited the services of Dr. Stephen Collins, who was threatened by a DEA agent within two months of providing help, and who became the target of attack after my case ended. Then I employed a locum tenens physician who suffered at the hands of the Board of Medicine for his efforts. Dr. Schultz was forced to commit perjury at my trial or face charges herself at the age of 78. My conviction was a complete surprise because the government did not prove any of the charges. However, as my defense attorney was a public defender, she did nothing for my defense. We had no witnesses since the government claimed everyone was their witness whether they used them or not, and I found out the hard way that defendants are guilty until proven innocent.

My primary patient base was the five populations of people that I believe are targets of government genocide: Medicare and Medicaid insured, poor, disabled, and elderly. I know of 15 patients that died within months of my office being closed. With only 150 active patients at the end of my practice, that represented 10%. And there are probably a lot more that I don’t know about.

How did the Western District of Virginia get so focused on doctors? That’s where the money is. It was here that the first case was filed against a pharmaceutical company. In July, 2007, Purdue Pharma pled guilty for misbranding OxyContin with intent to defraud, stating that OxyContin was less addictive. They agreed to pay $634 million. This is a perfect example of an innocent party accepting a plea because the alternative would be much more devastating. If Purdue Pharma had gone to trial and was convicted, they would have lost their government-insured patients for prescriptions for years. That would have cost them billions of dollars.

The $634 million was a drop in the bucket in comparison. I’m sure, like me, that Purdue Pharma thought that would be the end. But just as the government has targeted doctors to maintain their salaries, more states are jumping on charging the pharmaceutical companies with causing addiction. Of the money from Purdue Pharma, $5.3 million was paid to the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to fund future health care fraud investigations. With that money, the Roanoke office hired special investigators to specifically target area doctors, of which I was one.

Even though the War Against Drugs has done nothing to stem addiction, and it is getting worse, the government continues to use the same tactics, because now there are so many jobs in the DOJ that depend on it. The problem will get worse because the REAL cause of drug abuse is not being addressed. That’s because conventional medicine doesn’t know the cause. They are fishing in the dark. The REAL cause, however, is scientific and available through my DVD: The REAL Cause of Drug Abuse located on my website, http://doctorsofcourage.org/ .

1 comment:

BlueBlack said...

What Dr Cheek is reporting is factually accurate. Instead of being focused on the flow of synthetic opioids coming from China and Mexico, the government believes it's a brilliant idea to plant itself into the relationship between physicians and their pain patients.