The Controlled Substance Act was designed by Congress to go after offshore drug cartels and confiscate their assets. However, the DEA, formed in 1973 for that purpose, was an abject failure. So in the 1990’s they creatively turned the CSA against an easy, unexpecting target—American physicians. In 1999 there were 2 investigations of doctors. By 2001, Federal and state governments intensified their pursuit of doctors with 45 investigations.
Advocates for doctors facing indictments or trials said that they had been unfairly singled out by overzealous prosecutors and could not be held responsible for what patients did with the drugs once they leave a doctor’s office.
”I have never seen anything like this before,” said Dr. William Hurwitz, who was a pain management specialist and lawyer in McLean, VA at the time, who helped defend doctors. Dr. Hurwitz eventually became a target himself for his advocacy. Today, a primary defense expert witness and pain management physician, Dr. Forest Tennant, is facing the same attack. Not only does the government use illegal methods to charge and convict doctors, but they use their power to strip the defense of even having an expert witness to testify on their behalf. Since Dr. Tennant’s office was raided, charged physicians are having a hard time finding an expert witness.
In 2002, the first doctor in the nation to be convicted of manslaughter or murder for deaths related to the prescribing of pain medications was James F. Graves, MD of Pensacola, FL. Dr. Graves was convicted of four counts of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of four of his patients to whom he had prescribed OxyContin, a single count of racketeering and five counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, and at age 55 was sentenced to 63 years in prison—a life sentence. He had been arrested in 2000, closing his clinic after only 2 years of operation.
“This case deals with responsibility,” defense lawyer Michael Gibson said. “The state wants to hold Dr. Graves responsible for patients who abused medications.”
During the trial, defense attorneys argued that Graves’ patients were addicts who lied and exaggerated symptoms in order to get the doctor to write them prescriptions. Their deaths resulted from their abuse of OxyContin, not from Dr. Graves’ prescribing it. The patients had signed “pain contracts” in which they promised to follow his directions. If a patient lied, there was little Dr. Graves could do about it. They argued throughout the trial that the physician had followed standard medical practice and could not be held responsible for what patients did with the drugs he prescribed. Evidence would show that the victims did lie to Dr. Graves about their symptoms and then misused the OxyContin by crushing them, mixing them with water and injecting the solution into their veins. The victims died because of such abuse, including one who was depressed and used it to commit suicide. Dr. Graves testified that he was unaware that patients were abusing the drugs, and that no one would have died if the OxyContin had been taken as prescribed.
But Assistant State Attorney Russ Edgar started the propaganda machine rolling that hasn’t stopped in 15 years, and currently has 150 innocent physicians sitting in prison cells. He countered that Graves was fully aware that his patients were abusing the drugs, and that he was running a “prescription mill,” making $500,000 a year. The media, being quick with words that stick, changed “prescription mill to “pill mill” which is still the propagandizing word being used today to brainwash Americans into believing that honest physicians are acting as “drug pushers”.
“I hope by attaining this verdict that we could assist in controlling the problem of prescription drugs so that it does not become rampant as it has in other parts of the country,” Edgar said.
Well, Mr. Edgar, it is BECAUSE of your attacking doctors like this that addiction and drug abuse has skyrocketed over the last 15 years, to today, causing the numbers to quadruple.
Dr. Paul Doering, a paid witness for the prosecution and a professor of pharmacy at the University of Florida said “Dr. Graves portrays himself as the victim of overzealous prosecutors, bent on locking up innocent doctors in this country,” A little conscience showing there, Dr. Doering? You hit the nail on the head.
Dr. James Graves remained defiant to the end, telling the prosecutors that one day both of them would have to “stand before God.” Defense did file a motion after the conviction arguing that jurors failed to understand the evidence and the judge’s instructions during the trial. “The verdict of the jury was based upon bias, passion, misinformation and prejudices,” AMEN!!
But, as a result of this first win by the government, the door to illegal prosecution of doctors was opened. Prosecutors began to increasingly go after doctors prescribing OxyContin. The Western District of Virginia put icing on the cake by charging Purdue Pharma with fraud in their representation of OxyContin as being “less abusable”, even though, if used as directed, it was exactly that. Now, as a result of the attacks on long-acting opioids which actually DO cut down on the amount of medication needed, and lessens the euphoric effect upon dosing, addiction is climbing.
Dr. Graves was immediately imprisoned in the Santa Rosa County Jail in Milton, FL, pending appeal. His request for a bond pending appeal was denied because the prosecutor filed additional charges for Medicaid fraud, even though Dr. Graves did not accept Medicaid.There is no report of what happened with Dr. Graves’ appeal. Obviously it was denied, as he has been in a Florida State Prison.
Talk about God’s timing. This proves that we are working under the protection of God, and with His direction. There is a FaceBook page: Mercy for Dr. James F. Graves:
On January 21, the day I finished writing this post, the following post was put on the FB page:
Hey folks! Just a brief update. We’ve been in communication with the Office of Executive Clemency. They confirmed receipt of the application and it has been entered in the system. Feel free to keep sending letters of support either to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send it directly to the Office of Executive Clemency. It could take years before we hear anything back…the last time we requested Clemency it was over seven years before we got a response. There are a lot of people in line for clemency requests and unless you have some kind of access to power and influence, there is nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t look good for an old man, but all we can do is try and hope!
Back in November, 2017, the page had announced the application had been sent, and they requested letters of support, but to wait until the application was accepted. Now it has been accepted. Dr. Graves, an innocent man, has been held in a Florida State Prison for 15 years. It is way past time for his release. EVERYONE should be writing letters to the Clemency Board, explaining what I’ve taught you, and together we can get this innocent doctor released to enjoy the rest of his life with his family. They have an example letter written by family on the page. We will add one to the Membership site here, eventually. But for now, go to the FB page for directions, example, and address.
Let’s get this doctor released!! That’s your mission. Please accept it.