Last updated: July 18. 2013 8:32PM - 178 Views
LAWRENCE MESSINA, Associated Press Writer



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CHARLESTON (AP) A West Virginia doctor told The Associated Press this week that her coalfield clinic treated only legitimate patients before federal investigators raided it last month, suspecting it operated as a multimillion-dollar pill mill.
We did an excellent job, I believe, in treating people with multiple conditions, Dr. Katherine Hoover said. When you have real pain and take narcotics, you dont get high, nothing bad happens. Youre just able to function.
Hoover, 59, also said she believes the March 2 shutdown of the Mountain Medical Care Center has endangered the health of its patients, and may play a role in a recent spate of robberies and violent crimes in the area.
I believe thats a direct result of people not being able to get legal medication, Hoover told AP during the late Tuesday telephone interview.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment on Hoovers allegations. No charges have been filed, and a lawyer for the Mingo County clinics office manager also says it treated legitimate patients.
But U.S. District Court documents filed since late last month show that a state-federal probe has scrutinized the downtown Williamson clinic since at least early 2003. Investigators estimate that hundreds of people entered it daily, paid between $150 and $450 cash, and left with pain drug prescriptions.
Hoover was one of several doctors at the clinic. The investigators cite state Board of Pharmacy records alleging that 335,132 prescriptions have been written in Hoovers name in West Virginia since December 2002. Investigators have linked her to prescriptions written to 30,472 different people last year alone, the documents allege.
Hoover told AP she could not say whether those figures are correct.
Every patient was receiving legitimate care at the clinic, Hoover said. If we found that people were selling drugs or abusing drugs, we discharged them and did everything we could to get them help.
Hoover questions whether federal prosecutors have jurisdiction to pursue charges. She cited a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the U.S. Justice Department improperly tried to use a federal drug law to pursue Oregon doctors who prescribe lethal doses of prescription medicines under that states assisted-suicide law.
Prosecutors had said Hoover had apparently left the country. She told AP she was calling from the Bahamas, where she said she has sought both medical care and safety.
Hoover alleges that someone tried to poison her in the course of the 2007 federal lawsuit she filed over the death of her eldest son, two years earlier, after he had been taken to the North Central Regional Jail.
The state settled that case for $750,000 in August, court records show. Officials with the jails parent agency did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
A lawyer who had represented Hoover in the case, Timothy Koontz of Charleston, said he had no knowledge of any attempted poisoning. Koontz also stressed that the wrongful death case had nothing to do with the clinic probe.
The court documents from that probe show investigators searched more than a dozen properties including the clinic, Hoovers nearby apartment and her familys home in Harrison County. They also seized $2,000 from her apartments bedroom and nearly $113,000 from a bank account in her name.
Hoover said much of the latter amount belongs to her husband, from his share of the August settlement.
Every single penny is legal money, Hoover said.
Hoover has battled with government regulators since at least the 1990s over the way she prescribes pain drugs. Her West Virginia medical license is on probation following allegations that she tried to enlist a female patient, during a 1995 gynecological exam, to have sex with her teenage son and his friends, according to the court filings and state Board of Medicine records.
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