Last week a Delaware physician was convicted on more than 100 counts of illegally prescribing narcotics and filing false insurance claims in a high profile pill mill criminal prosecution. Prosecutors presented evidence from a medical practices expert witness who told jurors that suspect bookkeeping and lack of records strongly suggested the defendant was guilty.
Delaware Pill Mill Doctor Charged with Illegal Prescription Sales
Dr. Lawrence Wean, 61, operated a private practice in Chadds Ford, Delaware before being arrested last December for allegedly providing patients with narcotics without properly evaluating them. Investigators posing as patients were able to receive prescription narcotics such as Percocet and Oxycodone without being examined or asked for a medical history. During trial, the police investigators told jurors that they were given prescription medication in exchange for cash on multiple visits to Wean’s office.
In addition to police investigators, patients of Wean’s told jurors that they were able to receive power pain medication with very little effort providing they paid for their medication in cash. Wean’s employees informed the court that the doctor kept very few records and often had hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash around the office. In order to pull all the evidence together, prosecutors called an expert in prescription pain medication to inform jurors that Dr. Wean’s behavior was indicative of illegal prescription medicine sales.
Pain Medication Expert Witness Testifies in Pill Mill Prosecution
Before resting their case against Dr. Lawrence Wean, prosecutors called Dr. Eric Lipnack as a pain medication expert witness who reviewed 30 of Dr. Wean’s patient medical files to identify potential bookkeeping discrepancies that would suggest illegal distribution of pain medicine. On the stand Lipnack told jurors that Wean’s record keeping habits were “disgraceful” and “irresponsible” and evidence of a narcotic distribution system that failed to live up to legally required standards. Lipnack pointed out pain medication prescriptions being given to patients who did not have medical histories, charts that indicated they had been evaluated by Wean, or regular appointments. Further, Lipnack pointed to Wean’s practice of repeatedly welcoming patients back who he had previously dismissed for suspected pain medication addiction as evidence that the doctor was running a for-profit pill mill out of his private practice.
Defense attorneys forced Lipnack to admit that he had not spoken to any of Wean’s patients or discussed their pain medication needs, but the prosecution’s expert witness maintained that his review of Wean’s business and medical records was sufficient to notice irregularities. Telling jurors that when a doctor doesn’t record visits in writing then they didn’t happen, Lipnack testified that lack of written records about patient examinations suggested the defendant didn’t conduct any medical review before prescribing pain medication. During closing arguments, prosecutors pointed to the testimony of their lead expert witness to argue that Wean’s poor record keeping and lack of written records about patient visits was strong evidence that the defendant was running an illegal prescription pill operation.
Pill Mill Doctor Convicted of Illegal Pain Medication Sales
After three days of deliberations, jurors convicted Wean on 99 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, and more than a dozen counts of insurance fraud for claims that the doctor filed with patient insurance companies. Dr. Lipnack’s pain medication expert testimony helped prosecutors convince jurors that Dr. Wean’s lack of written records was evidence of illegal activity and not simply a case of absent-minded record-keeping as the defendant claimed. Wean will face a sentencing hearing on December 2nd.