Former Beach psychiatrist gets 3½-year term in drug, fraud case
By AMY JETER, The Virginian-Pilot
© May 25, 2006
NORFOLK — A former Virginia Beach psychiatrist was sentenced Wednesday to 3½ years in federal prison for unlawfully distributing prescription narcotics and improperly billing Medicaid.
Jeremy A. Stowell, 64, had pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing OxyContin, methadone and vicoprofen and to charging Medicaid, including for some patient visits that never occurred.
District Judge Raymond A. Jackson ordered Stowell to pay a $20,000 fine and $32,929 restitution to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. The judge also barred Stowell from employment in any medical profession.
“The court would probably consider you a blue-chip drug dealer,” Jackson said. “No sound physician would do what you did.”
In April 2004, Stowell distributed 10 tablets of vicoprofen to a person “not having legitimate medical need,” according to court papers, and in January 2005, the physician prescribed 60 OxyContin tablets and 150 methadone tablets for a patient who was purportedly out of state rather than at an appointment. That patient was an undercover officer.
In the health care fraud charge, Stowell billed Medicaid for an appointment that a patient already had paid for, appointments the patient did not attend and appointments in which the patient sent someone else on their behalf. In those cases, too, the patient was an undercover officer.
Stowell also charged Medicaid after he was barred from participating in federal health care programs after a mail fraud conviction in 1994.
Stowell, who acquired a Virginia medical license in 1970, surrendered it last summer at the behest of the state Board of Medicine.
According to reports from the board, Stowell had prescribed drugs to patients with histories of narcotics abuse without properly monitoring them and to patients who he knew were sharing the drugs with others. In some cases, he didn’t document the reason the drugs were needed, according to the report.
On Wednesday, a licensed clinical social worker testified about Stowell’s compassion and his work helping adolescents. “It will be a tragic loss to the community to not have him in practice,” Susan Avery testified.
After the hearing, Stowell’s attorney, Franklin A. Swartz, said his client was relieved. “He wants to get his sentence over with and get on with his life.”