Though a five-year sentence already had been agreed upon, a federal judge said Monday he still found it “a difficult sentencing chore” to send to prison a former physician convicted of fraudulently prescribing painkillers that wound up on the street.
“It gives me no great pleasure to sentence to prison a man who served his country and is a member of the learned medical profession,” U.S. District Court Judge David Katz said before imposing the sentence on Darrell A. Hall, 54, of Toledo.
The judge also ordered Hall to pay $78,113 in restitution to the Ohio Medicaid Program. As part of the plea agreement, Hall also must pay $97,384 to the federal government for unpaid payroll taxes for his employees.
Hall, who wore a neck brace at sentencing, told the court he never imagined himself there.
“I definitely believe I gave it my honest, best try,” he said of his central-city medical practice. “It’s taken a long time for me to get used to the terms ‘criminal,’ and ‘felony,’ in connection with my passion and the hard work I put into it.”
Joseph Wilson, an assistant U.S. attorney, said that while Hall tried to blame the problems on mismanagement in his practice, “a large number of very potent drugs were prescribed by you that were not proper under the law. … These were drugs that ended up on the street and were sold on the street.” The drugs included Oxycodone.
Hall’s downtown office was searched in 2009, although federal investigators said they had received information from Toledo police that Hall was a “large prescriber” of addictive medications as far back as 2007.
In August, Hall was indicted on 14 felony counts and in October he pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, health-care fraud, and failure to account for and pay employment tax.
The remaining 11 tax counts were dismissed Monday as part of the plea agreement.
Hall surrendered his license to prescribe medications in 2009, and in 2010, the State Medical Board of Ohio permanently revoked his medical license.
His attorney, Samuel Kaplan, said Hall had battled substance abuse but has been clean and sober since 2001. Hall now has colon cancer, and Judge Katz deferred the imposition of the prison sentence because of treatment he is undergoing.
Hall was allowed to remain free on bond until he reports for prison “not prior to June 1,” Judge Katz said.
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