HOPE Clinic Physician Pleads Guilty
BECKLEY, W.Va. – A North Carolina physician pled guilty to a drug crime, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Roswell Tempest Lowry, M.D., 85, pled guilty to interstate travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
“Like I’ve said before, medical professionals prescribing controlled substances outside the bounds of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose, will be held accountable just like any other drug dealer. A drug dealer with a lab coat and a stethoscope is still just a drug dealer,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Furthering the opioid crisis and taking advantage of West Virginians suffering with substance use disorder for the sake of personal greed cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Lowry admitted that in May 2014, he was contacted by a “head-hunter,” about working at the Charleston HOPE Clinic. He was told that HOPE Clinic specialized in the treatment of chronic pain through opioids but Lowry had no experience in pain management. Despite having no experience in pain management, Lowry agreed to work at the Charleston HOPE Clinic location. Lowry travelled from North Carolina to West Virginia the day before he was scheduled to work and stayed at a hotel for the week. When Lowry started working at the HOPE Clinic, it became apparent to him that customers were not being properly evaluated prior to receiving prescriptions for opioids. Lowry also realized that customer’s files were poorly kept with little relevant medical information in them. Most customers paid in cash and many travelled from out of state to the HOPE Clinic. Lowry often received a bonus on top of his hourly pay that was clearly based on the number of paying customers at the HOPE Clinic. Despite all of these red flags, Lowry continued to travel from North Carolina to work at the HOPE Clinic in Charleston, West Virginia, and he continued to write customers prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics. Lowry specifically admitted that he travelled to from North Carolina to Charleston, West Virginia on June 15, 2014, to work at the Charleston HOPE Clinic from June 16-18, 2014. During this trip, Lowry admitted to prescribing customer D.J.B. 120 Percocet 10/325 mg pills and 60 Oxycodone 10 mg pills without a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional medical practice and beyond the bounds of medical practice.
Lowry faces up to 5 years in prison when sentenced on May 4, 2020.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia State Police, the Kentucky State Police, the Beckley Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Charleston Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
United States District Judge Volk presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorneys Monica D. Coleman and Steven Loew are handling the prosecution.