Murray doctor pleads guilty to federal, civil charges related to improper distribution of opioids

Gavel. Photo: Pxhere

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 22, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Department of Justice, Utah District, announced Friday that a Utah doctor with a Murray practice has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of improper distribution of a controlled substance.

Dr. Nicholas “Nick” Carl Greenwood, 43, pleaded guilty to one felony count of distributing a schedule III narcotic for a non-legitimate medical purpose outside of the standards of medical practice, a DoJ Utah statement said.

In addition, Greenwood entered into a consent agreement in order to resolve a civil complaint related to his unlawful practice of prescribing controlled substances from his Murray office.

“In the criminal case, Greenwood pleaded guilty to one felony count of distribution of a controlled substance in a Utah federal court. In the plea agreement, Greenwood admitted that he intentionally prescribed and distributed Buprenorphine, a schedule III controlled substance, to a purported patient knowing the prescription was for a non-legitimate medical purpose and was outside of the standards of medical practice.”

Greenwood was ordered to serve 24 months of probation and to pay a $500 fine.

In the civil case against Greenwood, a federal court in Utah entered a consent judgment and permanent injunction ordering Greenwood to permanently cease dispensing opioids or other controlled substances and to pay $500,000 in civil penalties.

Under the court’s order, Greenwood will also surrender his registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and will never seek renewal. A DEA number is required for doctors to write prescriptions.

The consent order resolves a complaint filed by the United States alleging that Greenwood repeatedly wrote prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

In the complaint, the United States alleged that several confidential sources who were working for the DEA obtained prescriptions for Buprenorphine by simply asking Greenwood for them. The confidential sources received dozens of prescriptions for hundreds of pills without ever receiving any medical treatment. In most cases, the confidential sources paid cash for prescriptions they picked up from Greenwood’s office staff that were pre-written and signed.

In the few times Greenwood did see the confidential sources, he offered no treatment, allowed the confidential sources to bargain for prescriptions, and coached the confidential sources on how to trade and sell the powerful opioids he prescribed them.

The complaint further alleged that Greenwood followed this same pattern with other customers, and wrote prescriptions for dangerous combinations and for doses far in excess of those needed for proper treatment, while ignoring urinalysis tests and writing prescriptions for a form of medication more susceptible to
abuse.

“Healthcare professionals should be looked upon as heroes. Unfortunately, in this matter the physician abused his position of trust, and cast a shadow on the profession,” said United States Attorney John W. Huber. “The addiction epidemic continues to cause despair in American homes and communities. In partnership with the DEA, we will bring accountability to those who exploit the vulnerable.

“This investigation highlights the cooperative efforts between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and members of the DEA Salt Lake City District Office in combatting the illegal distribution of controlled substances in Utah, said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Tinkler.

“The DEA is committed to ensuring that those individuals prescribing regulated medications do so in a safe and legal manner.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here