News and Press Releases

Former Newton, Iowa Doctor Pleads Guilty of Health Care Fraud and Illegal Distribution of Controlled Substance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2014

DES MOINES, IA - The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, announces that Lafayette James Twyner, Jr., age 64, a former doctor in Newton, Iowa, pleaded guilty in United States District Court on February 21, 2014, to one count of health care fraud and one count of illegal distribution of a schedule III controlled substance resulting in death, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. If approved by the district court at sentencing, the plea agreement calls for Twyner to serve a total of 8 years of incarceration, which will include 5 years in prison and 3 years of home and/or community confinement.

“The illegal distribution and abuse of prescription drugs is a significant problem,” explained Klinefeldt. “Our office, and the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that assisted with this prosecution, take seriously our duty to protect the public from such practices,” he added.

Federal law permits doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration registrations to lawfully dispense controlled substances if they are doing so in the usual course of their professional practices and for a legitimate medical purpose, but makes it illegal for them to knowingly issue a prescription to someone who is abusing or diverting a drug.

The indictment, filed October 23, 2012, charges Twyner with prescribing controlled substances in a manner likely to cause, and that did cause, dependence, addiction, and in one case, death, as well as failing to change his prescribing practices, even after being made aware of obvious signs of patient drug abuse and diversion. Additionally, the indictment alleges he caused various insurance companies to be billed for prescriptions and services that were not for a legitimate medical purpose.

Twyner surrendered his registration to prescribe controlled substances to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in April 2011, shortly after a federal search warrant was executed at the location of now-defunct Urgent Care Clinic in Newton, where he then practiced medicine. According to public records from the Iowa Board of Medicine, Twyner, who was first licensed in Iowa in 1976, surrendered his license to practice medicine in 2012, and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. Twyner was cited by the Iowa Board of Medicine for “engaging in a pattern of willful and repeated violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine in Iowa, placing patients at risk of serious harm, when he prescribed excessive controlled substances to numerous patients, including patients with known drug histories.”

The investigation was a joint local, state, and federal effort, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-Office of Diversion Control, and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office. Other assisting agencies were the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement (MINE)-East Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Jasper County Attorney’s Office, and Iowa Board of Medicine. This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

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