News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Everett Osteopath Sentenced To Prison For Illegal Drug Distribution And Financial Crime

Doctor Operated “Pill Mill” Distributing More High Powered Oxy than Everett Hospital

June 15, 2012

            An Everett osteopath who distributed more high powered pain pills than Everett’s largest regional medical center, was sentenced today to three years in prison and three years of supervised release for distribution of a controlled substance and structuring financial transactions, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  DELBERT LEE WHETSTONE, 60, of Snohomish, Washington, prescribed nearly 88,000 80 mg Oxycontin pills in a ten month period in 2009.  By contrast, over the same ten month period Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett’s largest hospital, ordered only 13,400 of those tablets.  “I see a person who didn’t care about collateral damage to the community.  You distributed a huge amount of drugs for cash,” U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik told WHETSTONE. “I think the community was harmed by your practice of medicine.  This sentence sends a message that this is wrong and will be taken seriously by the court.”

            According to records filed in the case and statements in open court, Drug Enforcement Administration agents began examining WHETSTONE’s prescribing practices after numerous drug dealers were arrested with prescription medication bearing WHETSTONE’s name.  The investigation revealed WHETSTONE prescribed large amounts of Oxycontin.  Investigators sent a test patient into the WHETSTONE clinic.  The test patient was able to obtain a prescription for the powerful narcotic with only a cursory examination.  The test patient was able to get the prescription renewed after subsequent visits that lasted only 49 seconds and just over one minute.  When investigators served a search warrant on WHETSTONE’s home, office and storage unit, they found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash that he had never declared on his tax returns.  WHETSTONE admitted attempting to deposit it in amounts below $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements.  As part of his plea agreement he is forfeiting more than $1.2 million seized in the case to law enforcement and to the IRS.

            “Dr. Whetstone’s actions were not just a simple mistake,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes.  “A Doctor that deliberately places thousands of dosage units of pharmaceutical drugs on the street without concern for public health or safety only to line his or her own pockets is nothing more than a drug dealer wearing a white lab coat.”    

            In requesting the three year prison term, prosecutors wrote to the court that as a medical professional WHETSTONE “knew far better than the typical drug dealer the dangers of the
substances he was so cavalierly distributing. But his motivation was clear: There was
money to be made, and to further aggravate his offense, he took careful steps to hide his
large cash transactions from the taxing authorities and went so far as to hide hundreds of
thousands of dollars in cash in a storage unit. The amount of drugs involved here simply is staggering. The precise human toll of all of those thousands and thousands of powerful narcotics released to the street thanks to the defendant of course can never be known, but surely is horrific.”

            The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Parrent and Richard E. Cohen.

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