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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lexington, N.C. Physician Pleads Guilty To Unlawful Distribution Of Fentanyl

Doctor Admitted He Prescribed the Drug to Woman Addicted to Opiates with Whom He Was Romantically Involved

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –  U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced that James Randall Long, MD, 56, of Lexington, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer and pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution of Fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance.  Dr. Long admitted today in court that he prescribed the drug outside the scope of his professional practice to a woman with whom he was romantically involved, knowing that she was abusing the drug to further her addiction to opiates.

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office; Jim Schandevel, Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Western District Office; and Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug typically prescribed by doctors to help patients manage chronic pain symptoms. Those addicted to opiates often turn to Fentanyl for its intense euphoric effects and commonly rely on the drug as a substitute for heroin.  Fentanyl is significantly more potent than heroin with potentially fatal side effects.

“Dr. Long admitted he abused the public trust placed in him as a physician authorized to dispense controlled substances and misused his medical license to prescribe a potentially lethal drug to a woman he knew had a substance abuse problem.  As opioid addiction is becoming the number one cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States, my office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who serve as sources of supply.  From the street corner to a doctor’s office, anyone who distributes these potentially deadly substances poses a significant threat to public health safety and is subject to investigation and prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

According to court records and filed plea documents, Dr. Long admitted that shortly after meeting the woman in 2014 and until July 2015, he provided her prescriptions for Fentanyl outside the scope of his professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.  Dr. Long also admitted he knew the woman was not using the drug according to its prescribed use but was instead abusing it to further her addiction.  Dr. Long further admitted that during that time, he wrote and authorized Fentanyl prescriptions in the woman’s name and in the name of several other individuals, some of whom were not patients of Dr. Long and did not know prescriptions were being filled in their name. 

Dr. Long pleaded guilty to distribution and possession with intent to distribute Fentanyl by an authorized registrant outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He was released on bond following today’s plea hearing. The penalty for the charge carries a maximum prison term of twenty years and a $1,000,000 fine.

The investigation was led by DEA with assistance from CMPD and SBI.  U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the Mint Hill Police Department and the Gastonia Police Department for their help in the investigation. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Miller of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.

Updated October 24, 2016