Delaware County Doctor Sentenced to Three Years for Unlawfully Distributing Oxycodone to Patients in “Pill Mill” Case
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Timothy F. Shawl, M.D., 62, of Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania was sentenced to three years in prison, and two years of supervised release United States District Judge R. Barclay Surrick for his unlawful distribution of controlled substances in connection with his medical practice based in Philadelphia.
In January 2020, the defendant pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances, admitting that he wrote prescriptions for controlled substances that were outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Shawl was charged by Indictment in September 2019, as part of a nationally coordinated healthcare fraud enforcement action across seven federal districts, involving more than $800 million in loss and more than 3.25 million opioid pills distributed in “pill mill” clinics. Specifically, Shawl wrote prescriptions, usually for oxycodone, for certain patients without seeing, treating or examining them; generally, certain patients just picked up an envelope with their prescription from the receptionist at Shawl’s office. For one patient, he had not conducted a physical examination in at least five years, despite regularly prescribing controlled substances. This patient died on January 7, 2019, just three days after Shawl last prescribed oxycodone for her, and the cause of death was drug intoxication.
“This sentence should serve as a warning to any medical professional engaged in this type of illegal behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “As a physician, Shawl was well aware of the inherently dangerous nature of the drugs he cavalierly prescribed, sometimes to vulnerable people struggling with addiction, and he did so despite taking an oath to do no harm. He is no better than a street-level drug dealer; in fact, in some ways he is far worse.”
“Our community has felt the negative effects of pill mills operated by doctors like Shawl, who use their positions of trust to become drug dealers for personal profit, for far too long,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But the FBI and our law enforcement partners are fighting back, and we will continue to tirelessly pursue unethical doctors who write illegal opioid prescriptions that are plainly outside their professional practice. Today’s sentencing is a testament to the dedication and teamwork in combating the opioid crisis in the Philadelphia area.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from task force officers from the Philadelphia Police Department and Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Debra Jaroslawicz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.