FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 22 , 2010
TOPEKA DOCTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL DRUG CHARGES
TOPEKA, KAN. – Physician Ethan E. Bickelhaupt, 58, Topeka, Kan., has pleaded guilty to unlawfully prescribing controlled substances, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today.
Bickelhaupt pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully distributing controlled substances and one count of unlawfully obtaining controlled substances. In his plea, Bickelhaupt admitted the crimes took place in 2006 while he worked at the VA Medical Center in Topeka, where he taught geriatric and acute psychiatry to psychiatry residents. During that time he also claimed to have a “tiny private practice” operating out of his home, even though there was no exam room there.
Bickelhaupt issued prescription orders to individuals who were not bonafide patients. They filled the prescriptions at pharmacies in Topeka and Lawrence and gave the controlled substances to Bickelhaupt for his personal consumption. On occasion, he would compensate them by giving them cash or controlled substances. For example, he prescribed Adderall and Tylenol #3 to individuals for use during parties at his house. The Adderall was so they could stay up late and the Tylenol #3 was to ease the discomfort of hangovers and withdrawal from using cocaine.
In May 2006, Bickelhaupt wrote an email to a nurse stating that getting “drunk” and “high” was his “only” interest and he wanted to share the process with friends “socially, at no cost to them.”
Sentencing is set for May 21, 2010. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on the charge of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, and a maximum penalty of 4 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of unlawfully obtaining a controlled substance.
Welch commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway for their work on the case.