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Raided in 2016 and arrested in 2017, Frank Craig. Purpera, Jr., MD, 42, of Blacksburg, VA was convicted Feb, 2018 of 68 counts of fraud, one count of omitting information required on a government form, and one count of lying to a government official.  Dr. Purpera had a vein treatment practice. In the course of his treatment he purchased controlled substances to use in procedures as well as to prescribe to his patients afterward.

The Drug Enforcement Administration flagged Purpera for an unannounced interview in 2016 because they identified him as a top physician purchaser of controlled substances in the region. Dr. Purpera asked to delay the review of his medical records, so the DEA obtained a warrant to seize the documents. Sixteen months later, he was indicted and arrested.

I personnally dropped by Dr. Purpera’s office the week in 2016 that he was raided and offered my help to his office staff. He wouldn’t even talk to me and never reached out. The media at that time quoted him allegedly saying “Who is to tell me what I can and can’t prescribe?” Arrogant? Sure. Criminal? Of course not. The CSA specifically states that only the doctor can determine legitimate medical practice. So he is, in fact, correct.

The government used against Dr. Purpera the fact that he purchased the most oxycodone of any doctor in the area. He also did not keep perfect records of where those drugs went. But he was known to give them to his patients during and after procedures.  He also treated his wife and mother. Again, treating family is frowned on and considered “unprofessional” BUT it isn’t criminal. The government claims it is in violation of federal law, but it actually isn’t. It is only through propaganda and the misinterpretation of the CSA that the government is getting away with these charges.

Here is what really gets my goat.

His primary defense lawyer was John Brownlee—the US Attorney from 2001 to 2008 who attacked me, committing prosecutorial misconduct in my case. But now he is working the other side of the fence, making statements that the allegations against Dr. Purpera are false:

“Dr. Purpera has never committed fraud, and he never lied to a federal agent.” “Moreover, none of the allegations has anything to do with his treatment of his patients, which is exemplary. We will aggressively defend Dr. Purpera against these allegations and look forward to a quick resolution to this unfair campaign against one of our local doctors.”

Well, he has firsthand knowledge of unfair government campaigns against doctors since he led them. Another interesting point showing the evil and unethical nature of the DOJ is that Brownlee was the former boss of the prosecuting attorney, Jennie Waering. Shortly before the trial began, Brownlee accused Waering of prosecutorial misconduct. Takes one to know one, huh? Brownlee alleged that a phone call by Waering to a defense witness offering to pay him to testify as a prosecution expert constituted witness tampering. Judge Dillon ruled that the episode didn’t harm Purpera’s ability to defend himself.

Brownlee also alleged that a government subpoena of his phone records was an effort to spy on Purpera’s defense team. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Dillon ruled for Waering, however, finding no misconduct had occurred. Prosecution basically has the court’s blanket permission to break the law without consequences.

Dr. Purpera did the right thing of demanding a speedy trial. His problem was he had the wrong lawyer.  Because he demanded a speedy trial, the prosecution couldn’t put the case together to charge him with prescribing drugs without a legitimate medical purpose. That requires the years they always take combing the medical charts to produce the charges.

However, due to his poor defense choice, jurors found him guilty of making false statements to a distributor about the intended use of 10,000 units of controlled substances. How can this be? As his procedures were painful and done in the office, what else would he do with them than use them for patients? And how can that be construed to be against the law? Is this going to be the new attack strategy against doctors?  This would be a factor in rural areas where doctor’s offices are permitted to be dispensaries. The defense said all the purchased drugs were administered to patients undergoing vein eradication procedures at a rate of one or two tablets a case and to his ailing wife for a blood-clotting condition that caused severe pain.

Brownlee told jurors Purpera adhered to drug laws in all material respects, adding: “There’s an opioid crisis, but not in this case.”  “No entries exist in the medical records about the drugs that patients received because no entry is required when a doctor dispenses drugs at no charge, as Purpera did to both patients and his wife,”

Follow the Money!!

So now, as a defense attorney, he says that a doctor has the right to treat patients as he sees fit. But as a US Attorney, his argument was the exact opposite. It is this unethical practice of the legal profession to jump from one side of the fence to the other “for the money” that I can’t tolerate.  That’s the whole problem with any attack on a doctor for controlled drugs—they’re just “following the money”.

 

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