Dr. Robert Wayne Locklear Sentenced to Serve 24 Months in Federal Prison on Crack Cocaine Conspiracy and Health Care Fraud Conspiracy Charges
GREENEVILLE, TN—On Sept. 22, 2014, Dr. Robert Wayne Locklear, 43, of Greeneville, Tenn., was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 24 months in federal prison, for his convictions of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base (crack) and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He was also ordered to pay a total of $121,958.70 in restitution to TennCare and Medicare.
Locklear was licensed to practice medicine in both Tennessee and Virginia. He operated two businesses, Trinity Internal Medicine and Sleep and Trinity Recovery Clinic, in Greeneville, Tenn. The latter was an office based substance abuse treatment program where individuals with opioid addictions were treated with Suboxone or Subutex in an outpatient setting.
According to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court, while operating these businesses, Locklear developed addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine. During the investigation, he told law enforcement agents that he began smoking crack cocaine in February 2013 and did so several times a week. By April 2013, Locklear admitted that he was smoking crack cocaine every day, before, during and after work. He also admitted that he went back to the office at night to run the Suboxone clinic and that he saw patients “with a buzz.” Locklear further admitted that he gave/distributed crack cocaine to others individuals, as well as having others cook cocaine into crack cocaine for him. He was arrested in June 2013 with approximately 6.4 grams of crack cocaine and several crack pipes in his pockets. Less than one week before that arrest, law enforcement officers found Locklear in possession of approximately four grams of crack cocaine and more crack pipes.
The plea agreement further provided that, over time, Locklear’s excessive drug and alcohol usage resulted in his coming into the office to see patients only sparingly. In order to keep his Suboxone practice going, he told his office staff to continue to see patients, call in their prescriptions for Suboxone and order urine drug screens in his absence. Locklear did so knowing that no employee/medical assistant at his practice was properly licensed or trained to provide these requisite medical services. By having his staff continue to see patients in his absence, Locklear authorized prescriptions for medications, including Suboxone, to be distributed to patients that he had not seen, had not conducted physical examinations on, and had not determined sufficient medical necessity for the prescriptions.
Evidence showed that, on numerous occasions, drug screens for Locklear’s patients came back positive for the presence of non-prescribed illegal drugs such as oxycodone, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine or came back negative for drugs actually prescribed by Locklear to the patient. Often, these abnormal drug screens were not properly reviewed by Locklear and the patients were not counseled as to the illegal drug usage; however, the patients routinely continued to have their Suboxone prescriptions called in anyway.
U.S. Attorney William C. Killian stated, “Dr. Locklear put the health, well-being and lives of his patients in jeopardy by his inability or unwillingness to place them ahead of his own addictions. His conviction and sentence send a message to the public that this type of conduct will not be tolerated and serve as a deterrent to other doctors who find themselves in similar situations.”
The investigation leading to this indictment and conviction was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Third District Judicial Drug Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.