GREENCASTLE – A central Indiana physician has pleaded guilty to charges that he excessively prescribed narcotics, which authorities said were sometimes exchanged for sexual encounters with female patients.
State officials suspended the medical license for Ray Howell, 57, of Roachdale after his arrest in October, but the plea agreement with prosecutors entered in court Thursday would prohibit him from practicing medicine again, the Banner Graphic reported.
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said he plans during Howells sentencing hearing Aug. 13 to have some of his former patients testify about his reckless prescription writing and sexual advances.
I consider this a serious case, because in the last 18 months, prescription drug abuse has overshadowed meth in our community, Bookwalter said.
Federal Drug Enforcement Agency officials also are expected to testify concerning the number of prescriptions Howell was writing, a figure that topped 11,000 a year at one point.
When I first saw those numbers, I didnt believe them, Bookwalter said.
Howell pleaded guilty to five charges, including unlawful distribution of oxycodone and other pain medications. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other 10 charges against Howell.
Authorities said some patients seeking narcotics traveled more than 100 miles to Howells Tri-County Medical Clinic in Roachdale. The office in the town some 30 miles west of Indianapolis has been closed since his arrest.
Howell said little during Thursdays court hearing, giving mostly one-word answers to the judge.
Howell became noticeably irritated when he took the witness stand and defense attorney Dennis Zahn ran though the list of counts to which he was pleading guilty.
Didnt we already cover this once? Howell asked in his longest statement in court.