Shafer sentenced for painkiller prescription conspiracy
by Martha Sparks
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Former Mingo County doctor was sentenced to six months in federal prison for conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number.
Dr. Diane E. Shafer, 60, previously pleaded guilty in May. Shafer admitted that she was responsible for providing painkiller prescriptions to patients she did not examine, but who came to her Williamson office and paid a cash fee. Shafer further admitted that she left signed, undated prescriptions for controlled substances at her office so members of her staff could distribute them in exchange for cash when the defendant was away. The prescriptions, which included the painkiller hydrocodone and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, were provided without Shafer’s seeing the patients or determining they had any medical need for the drugs prescribed.
Records indicate between 2003 and early 2010, Shafer wrote over 118,000 prescriptions for controlled substances. Though she was a solo practitioner, Shafer, by herself, wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances than several West Virginia hospitals did during that period.
“When a doctor or pharmacist abuses his or her prescription power, it fuels our state’s worst crime problem,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “The vast majority of physicians prescribe responsibly, but even a handful of bad actors can flood our communities with illegal pills. I hope this conviction sends a clear message: There are consequences if you prescribe drugs illegally.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney John Frail handled the prosecution. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr.
Shafer was also a candidate on the Republican ballot for W.Va. House of Delegates 20th District in the May 2012 Primary.
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