Former Bolivar Clinic Physician Pleads Guilty to Illegally Dispensing Narcotics
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former physician at a Bolivar, Mo., health clinic has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally distributing prescription drugs.
Nolan Denny Crisp, 75, of Half Way, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Monday, April 8, 2013 to the charge contained in a July 24, 2012 federal indictment.
“This former physician abused his position by handing out illegal prescriptions to so-called patients, including a girlfriend and clients he met in the parking lot,” said Dickinson. “His conduct was not only illegal, but as the federal investigation concluded, reckless, dangerous and life-threatening.”
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Michael Kaste stated, “There is an expectation and trust of those within the health care profession, a trust that should not be compromised. There is no tolerance when medical professionals abuse their position to exploit patients and capitalize on those with addictions.”
Crisp was employed at Pomme de Terre Wellness Center (also known as the Bolivar Family Wellness Clinic and Northwoods Psychiatric Services, Inc.) in Bolivar from June 2009 through Nov. 10, 2010 to provide pain management and other services to patients.
By pleading guilty today, Crisp admitted that he wrote prescriptions for OxyContin, Oxycodone Hydrochloride, and Oxycodone-Aspirin for a purported patient with whom he was involved in a sexual relationship. The prescriptions were illegal because they were not in the usual course of professional practices and for a person who had no legitimate medical need for the prescriptions.
Current and former clinic employees expressed concerns about Crisp’s prescription-writing practices. For example, clinic staff noticed Crisp meeting people in the parking lot and giving them prescriptions, even though they were not being seen in the clinic. The clinic was getting so many patients claiming that their prescriptions were lost or stolen that they began requiring a police report. A nurse practitioner said word got out that Crisp was generous with narcotics prescriptions, and she would see patients parked across the street in a church parking lot waiting for him so they could get prescriptions. She also said that sometimes the clinic nurses would run a drug screen that revealed the patient was not taking the drugs being prescribed; they informed Crisp, but he continued writing prescriptions for the patient.
The federal investigation included reviewing overdose reports from Citizens Memorial Hospital, Crisp’s appointment schedule for the clinic, Crisp’s Medicaid billing records while he was at the clinic, information regarding prescriptions written by Crisp and filled at six major pharmacies in Bolivar, and information from the Polk County Coroner. During the period that Crisp worked at the clinic, there were 96 overdose incidents at the hospital, 29 of whom were connected to his care. During that same period, six of the patients who died from overdoses were connected to his care.
The government retained an internal medicine physician specializing in pain management to review patient files. The physician was provided with charts for certain patients who were known to be drug abusers or who had overdosed. In the physician’s report, he provided background regarding the standard of care for the use of controlled substances in the treatment of pain. He also provided a detailed analysis of Crisp’s treatment of 20 patients. For the 20 patients, his opinion was that Crisp’s treatment was reckless, dangerous, life-threatening, and inconsistent with sound medical practice.
Under federal statutes, Crisp is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom Larson and Cindi Woolery. It was investigated by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bolivar, Mo., Police Department and the Missouri Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.