Former Kauai Physician Pleads Guilty to Illegally Dispensing Drugs
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 10, 2009|
HONOLULU, HI—HAROLD C. SPEAR, III, M.D., 56, formerly of Hanapepe, Hawaii, today pled guilty to four counts of dispensing controlled substances “outside the usual course of professional practice” and “not for a legitimate medical purpose.” SPEAR also pled guilty to one additional similar charge of dispensing controlled substances filed in the Middle District of Alabama, and agreed to the forfeiture of money seized as part of that investigation. He will be sentenced on all five charges on October 26, 2009, before United States District Judge David Alan Ezra.
Edward H. Kubo, Jr., United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that in entering his guilty plea, SPEAR admitted that he prescribed a Schedule II controlled substance, methadone, to a Hawaii patient on four occasions in 2005 and 2006, and that in each instance the prescription was in violation of a federal law prohibiting the dispensing of controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. The Alabama charge was premised on a similarly illegal prescription for hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance.
Court records show that the investigation into SPEAR began with the execution of a search warrant at his offices as part of a related investigation by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations into an Alabama pharmacy which was filling prescriptions issued by SPEAR to patients in several southeastern states. Following the Alabama investigation, federal authorities in Hawaii initiated an investigation into SPEAR’s Hawaii medical practice, including his operation of an internet website called “DIAL-A-DOC.”
SPEAR’s medical office, the Hanapepe Clinic in Hanapepe, Island of Kauai, was searched on two separate occasions by federal law enforcement agents who were investigating the prescribing practices of SPEAR. The affidavit filed in support of the issuance of one such search warrant states that SPEAR issued prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances to patients he never personally saw and for whom he performed no physical examination or medical testing.
SPEAR faces up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $1,000,000 on each of the four Hawaii charges and up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 on the Alabama charge at the time of his sentencing.
The charges resulted from an investigated conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division. The prosecution is being headed by the Assistant United States Attorney William L. Shipley