UPDATE: Former Milton Doctor Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 1/7/13 @ 1:45 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former Milton doctor will spend two years in prison for violating federal drug control laws.

55-year-old Dr. Anita Dawson was sentenced Monday during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Huntington.

In July, Dawson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, and subterfuge.

The two-year sentence is four times the maximum recommended by federal guideline which called for a sentence of zero to six months, according to federal prosecutors.

During her July plea hearing, Dawson admitted that from July 2006 until May 21, 2009, she wrote prescriptions for addictive pain medications to an individual identified as “E.B.”

Dawson said she wrote a total of nearly 6,000 pills containing oxycodone and a total of more than 220 pills for the painkiller Endocet to "E.B" during that time.

Dawson further admitted that at the time she wrote the prescriptions for “E.B.,” she was aware that the patient was seeking pain medication for an addiction and other inappropriate reasons.

The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy suspended Dawson’s medical license in April 2010, the same day that federal and state investigators raided her Milton office. Dawson then permanently gave up her license in September 2010.

According to the Board, Dawson caused or contributed to eight drug overdose deaths, as well as a car crash that killed a Barboursville woman and two teenage girls.

On April 2, 2009, Erma Brown was driving a car that crossed the center line on Alternate Route 10 near Barboursville and hit the car the driven by 47-year-old Carole Crawford.

Crawford, her daughter Meaghan, 16, and Kelsey Kuhn, 15, died in the crash after their car caught fire.

In February 2010, Brown pleaded guilty in Cabell County Circuit Court to three counts of DUI causing death. She was later sentenced to a maximum penalty of three, two to 10-year sentences for the deaths.

In handing out the sentence Monday, U.S District Judge Robert C. Chambers said this type of responsibility by doctors is no different than what is seen on the streets.

"Doctors are doing nothing different than the drug dealers from Detroit on the streets and if we're going to deal with this horrible problem doctors have to be held responsible," Chambers said.

Before sentencing, family members of three victims killed in that 2009 automobile accident caused by a patient of Dawson spoke to the court in the hopes of a strong sentence for Dawson.

Dawson also spoke to family members in court.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't intend to hurt anyone. I've read your statements (provided to the judge) and they will remain a part of my life forever," Dawson said.

Chad Lovejoy is the attorney for the Crawford family and says the family appreciates the message being sent to other doctors through today's sentence.

"They appreciate the message being sent to the rogue elements of the community that this prescription epidemic is a scourge, that lives are being lost and pain is being felt,” Lovejoy said.

Dawson was not taken into custody Monday, But will be notified when she is required to report to federal prison.



UPDATE 7/30/12 @ 1:20 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former Milton doctor has pleaded guilty to a federal information charging her with violating federal drug control laws.

Dr. Anita Dawson, 55, entered her guilty plea to aiding and abetting in obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, and subterfuge during a hearing Monday in U.S District Court in Huntington.

Dawson was charged in the legal filing back in June 2012. An information typically signals that a defendant agrees to plead guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

During Monday’s hearing, Dawson admitted that from July 2006 until May 21, 2009, she wrote prescriptions for addictive pain medications to an individual identified as “E.B.”

Dawson said she wrote a total of nearly 6,000 pills containing oxycodone and a total of more than 220 pills for the painkiller Endocet.

Dawson further admitted that at the time she wrote the prescriptions for “E.B.,” she was aware that the patient was seeking pain medication for an addiction and other inappropriate reasons.

Dawson and “E.B.” entered into a pain management agreement which required the patient to submit to drug tests and pill counts. Despite the known individual’s repeated violations of the pain management agreement, Dawson admitted she continued to prescribe pain medication.

“This conviction is an important victory in the fight against prescription drug abuse,” said United States Attorney Booth Goodwin. “The vast majority of physicians prescribe responsibly, but even a handful of bad doctors can flood our communities with illegal pills. Every time we put a law-breaking doctor out of business, it’s a big step toward getting this problem under control.”

The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy suspended Dawson’s medical license in April 2010, the same day that federal and state investigators raided her Milton office. Dawson permanently gave up her license in September 2010.

According to the Board, Dawson caused or contributed to eight drug overdose deaths, as well as an April 2009 car crash that killed a Barboursville woman and two teenage girls

As part of Monday’s plea deal, Dawson could spend up to four years in prison, pay a $250,000 fine, and have to pay restitution to her victims.



UPDATE 6/4/12 @ 3:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- United States Attorney Booth Goodwin has charged a Cabell County doctor with violating federal drug control laws.

Dr. Anita Dawson, 55, of Milton, W.Va., was charged with aiding and abetting in obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, and subterfuge.

Dawson was charged in a legal filing known as an information, which typically signals that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Dawson’s medical license was suspended by the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy in April 2010, on the same day -- federal and state investigators executed a search warrant at her Milton office. According to the Board, Dawson caused or contributed to eight drug overdose deaths, as well as an April 2009 car crash that killed a Barboursville woman and two teenage girls. Following the search and the suspension of her medical license, Dawson voluntarily gave up her license permanently.

Dawson faces up to four years in federal prison as a result of the charge filed by Goodwin.

No court date has been set.



UPDATE 9/26/10 @ 1:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Milton doctor whose medical license has been suspended since the FBI raided her office has decided to permanently give up the license and retire.

That word from the W.Va. Board of Osteopathy.

The Board of Osteopathy accepted Dr. Anita Dawson's request at their meeting in Charleston last week.

Federal agents raided Dr. Dawson’s office along U.S. Route 60 in Milton back on April, 7, 2010. Her license was suspended by the Board of Osteopathy the same day.

The Board cited a repeated and continued pattern of unethical and unprofessional conducts from 2004 to 2009. According to the board, eight of her patients died from overdoses.

Following a hearing in May 2010, the Board decided to continue that suspension. Dr. Dawson did not appeal their decision.

In July, Dr. Dawson’s attorney notified the Board she wanted to formally retire and surrender her license.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed in the case.



UPDATE 5/13/10 @ 11:15 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A hearing examiner for the W.Va. Board of Osteopathy has recommend that the board continue the suspension of Dr. Anita Dawson's medical license.

The Board accepted the recommendation during a meeting Charleston Thursday morning.

Dawson and her attorney did not attend the hearing

The next step is for the Board of Osteopathy to conduct a full hearing on the suspension. No date was set during Thursday's meeting.

The Board temporarily suspended Dawson's license last month, citing a repeated and continuing pattern of unethical and unprofessional conduct from 2004 to 2009.

According to the board, eight of Dawson's patients died from overdoses.

The license was suspended the same day the FBI raided her office in Milton.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed in the case.



UPDATE 5/6/10
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A Milton doctor accused of unethical prescription practices that led to 11 deaths says she saw no red flags with any of the patients.

Dr. Anita T. Dawson also defended her late-night practice hours and her decision to operate her facility primarily as "cash-only" during a hearing Wednesday before a West Virginia Board of Osteopathy hearing examiner.

The board temporarily suspended Dawson's license last month, citing a "repeated and continuing pattern of conduct" from 2004 to 2009. According to the board, eight of Dawson's patients died from overdoses.

Hearing examiner Jennifer Narog Taylor will make a recommendation to the board regarding Dawson's license. The board is expected to make a decision on May 13.



UPDATE 5/4/10 @ 7:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Milton doctor whose medical license has been suspended since the FBI raided her office has decided to permanently give up her license and retire.

That word from the W.Va. Board of Osteopathy

Last week, Dr. Anita Dawson's request was accepted by the Board of Osteopathy at their meeting in Charleston.

Federal agents raided Dr. Dawson’s office along U.S. Route 60 in Milton back on April, 7, 20110. Her license was suspended by the Board of Osteopathy the same day.

The Board cited a repeated and continued pattern of unethical and unprofessional conducts from 2004 to 2009. According to the board, eight of Dawson's patients died from overdoses.

Following a hearing in May2010, the Board decided to continue that suspension. Dr. Dawson did not appeal that decision.

In July, Dr. Dawson’s attorney notified the Board she wanted to formally retire and surrender her license.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed in the case.



UPDATE 5/13/10
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Was a Milton doctor engaging in dangerous practices or just a victim of circumstance?

That was the question behind a hearing Tuesday at the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy in Charleston to help decide if Dr. Anita Dawson will ever practice medicine again.

Dawson faced intense scrutiny from prosecutors who say her unsafe, unethical and unprofessional conduct led to the death of nine of her patients.

Prosecutors say those patients died from fatal overdoses from massive amounts of painkillers prescribed by Dawson. That's why they held the emergency hearing to decide whether Dawson should be allowed to have her medical license reinstated.

The prosecution heard from Dr. Andy Tanner, the program director Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) who says Dawson missed signs that some of her patients were abusing their medication and heading down a dangerous path.

"To me, there were some obvious signs of opiate abuse and addiction that appeared to be ignored," Tanner said.

He pointed to reports of patients calling in saying their medications had been stolen or that they had ran out early, only to have Dawson refill the prescription.

But Dawson's defense says it's the patients who made the final call to abuse their medicine, blaming the patients and not Dawson.

"I don't think there's any correlation between these patients' deaths and her treatment of them," defense attorney William T. Watson said. "These patients died by acts that they did -- not what the doctor did."

While no decision was made on Dawson's future, those who spoke up on her behalf Tuesday say her remaining patients are by her side and hoping she soon returns.

The recommendation on Dawson's future will go through several hurdles before the Board of Osteopathy makes the final decision. The earliest we could hear that decision would be May 13.

Dawson could face criminal charges, which are separate from Tuesday's hearing.



UPDATE 5/4/10 @ 11 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A hearing is underway in Charleston for a doctor from Milton who lost her medical license last month.

On April 7, the WV Board of Osteopathy suspended Dr. Anita Dawson’s medical license pending completion of an investigation and hearing by the board.

According to documents from the WV Board of Osteopathy, the board found probable cause that Dawson engaged in unprofessional and unethical conduct in prescribing Controlled Substances.

The Board alleged that Dawson's "conduct and violations of the standards of care caused or contributed to the deaths of 11 people." The board says eight of the 11 were Dawson's patients

The first witness during Tuesday’s hearing was a doctor from the Prestera Center in Huntington who testified that he reviewed the charts of a number of Dr. Dawson’s patients.

Dr. Andy Tanner says that he found some red flags. Tanner told the hearing examiner that included no lab work or drug screenings for some patients, as well as excessive dosages of some medicines.

The April 7 license suspension coincided with federal agents raiding her office along Route 60 near Milton.

Federal law enforcement officers spent more than four hours at the office. Among the items seized: complete patient files, patient sign-in logs, laboratory and test orders, computers, personnel schedules, bank and other financial records, and cell phones.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed against Dr. Dawson.

Tuesday’s hearing is expected to last most of the day with several more witnesses expected to testify.

We have a crew in the hearing room.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 4/14/10
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The U.S. Attorney's Office has released the search and seizure warrant for Dr. Anita Dawson's office in Milton.

Click here to view the search warrant.

Click here to view more search warrant documents.

According to that warrant, federal law enforcement officers spent more than four hours at the office on April 7.

Among the items seized: complete patient files, patient sign-in logs, laboratory and test orders, computers, personnel schedules, bank and other financial records, and cell phones .

The raid coincided with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy suspending Dr. Dawson's medical license on April 7.

No criminal charges have been filed against Dr. Dawson

A hearing on the Board of Osteopathy's complaint against Dr. Dawson is set for next week.



UPDATE 4/8/10
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A state medical board called one West Virginia Doctor an immediate danger to the public.

Wednesday, there was a federal raid on the office of Dr. Anita Dawson after a "pill mill" investigation liked her to nearly a dozen deaths.

In the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy's lengthy investigation and complaint against Dr. Dawson, "the unsafe, unethical and unprofessional conduct" count involving "patient D" notes on Jan. 11, 2006 -- Dr. Dawson prescribed 90 Oxycontin tablets. The next day, "patient D" died from an Oxycontin overdose. Carlie Gilette admits "patient D" -- her sister Kim Adkins -- was an addict, but she says Dr. Dawson must share in responsibility for Kim's death.

"I felt like she could have done more to treat the pain as opposed to keep giving her more and more -- something that she obviously could see," Gilette said. "When I took her, it was just wall to wall to wall people, people that couldn't hold their head up. I mean, they were obviously in there pain seeking -- med seeking."

The investigation notes patient after patient of Dr. Dawson, all fatally overdosed since 2004, after they were prescribed massive amounts of pain killers.

In April 2009, the car crash deaths of Carole and Meghan Crawford and Kelsey Kuhn. They died in a collision with a car driven by Erma Brown, who pleaded guilty to driving while abusing the massive amounts of pain killers prescribed to her by Dr. Anita Dawson.

The Cabell County Sheriff calls actions taken against the doctor after that crash vital to public safety.

"Anytime that a case can move toward the ultimate resolution, that makes us very, very happy," Sheriff Tom McComas said.

The Board suspended Dr. Dawson's license, but many wonder why wasn't something done sooner to possibly save lives. The Board Executive Director Dianna Shepherd says these type of medical probes take time -- time that may soon be shortened with more public and government awareness.

"Our hopes are that there may be some legislative changes to make these investigations a little more open," Shepherd said. "Creating better resources for us to use."

"Some of them paid her bills," Jimmy Smith of Milton said, referring to Dr. Dawson's patients. "They brought her cakes, pies, eggs..."

"I've always heard that she's a wonderful person," Sue Benedict of Milton told WSAZ.com.

Jim of Jim's Car Wash and Sue of Ladies Plus Consignment shop are two of Dr. Dawson's neighbors. Both say the doctor office stayed open late -- sometimes until 3 a.m. -- but they both hedge on placing blame.

"Yes she did write the prescriptions and stuff, but the patients are the ones who abused them," Sue said. "That's on her defense."

"She helped her patients she was there, she was there all hours," Jim explained.

Carlie Gilette says Thursday would have been her sister Kim's 39th birthday, and that she wants criminal charges filed against Dr. Anita Dawson.

"I want my sister to have justice," Gilette said. "I want her remembered as we remember her."

WSAZ.com has tried to get in contact with Dr. Dawson, but has not been in contact.

Dr. Dawson's suspension hearing with the Osteopathic Board is set for April 20.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/07/10
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Federal law enforcement officials spent several hours at a doctor’s office along Route 60 in Milton on Wednesday.

A number of FBI agents were at a building with a sign that says Dr. Anita Dawson, Family Medicine -- located just west of downtown Milton along U.S. Route 60.

Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys’ Office have no comment on what took place at the office.

Diana Shepard, the Executive Director of the WV Board of Osteopathy, tells WSAZ.com that on Wednesday, the board immediately suspended Dr. Dawson’s medical license pending completion of an investigation and hearing by the board.

According to documents obtained from the West Virginia Board of Osteopathy, the board has probable cause that Dawson engaged in unprofessional and unethical conduct in prescribing Controlled Substances.

Click here to view the document

In the order for summary suspension of license section, the board alleges that Dawson's "conduct and violations of the standards of care caused or contributed to the deaths of 11 people."

The board says eight of the 11 were Dawson's patients. Three of the people were members of the public killed by the actions of a patient who was then under the influence of controlled substances and drugs, according to the complaint.

The alleged misconduct occurred during 2004-2009.

"Despite these tragic outcomes, the Respondent (Dawson) continues in the same pattern of unsafe, unethical, and unprofessional conduct with gross indifference to the safety of her patients and the public," board claims in complaint.

Dawson prescribed medication including, Hydrocodone, Tamazeepam and Alprazolam.

According to the complaint, Dawson started treating a patient in April 2005 and prescribed Hydrocodone and Diazepam; both controlled substances.

On August 12, 2005, the patient died from "Combined Cocaine, Hydrocodone and Diazepam intoxication."

According to the document the board believes Dawson prescribed the substances "without taking reasonable measures to determine whether abuse or diversion of these substances were occurring, or likely to occur..."

Other cases are listed in the complaint accusing Dawson of prescribing medications to other people who later died from "over-ingestion."

According to one of the counts in complaint, Dawson treated a patient between 2005-2009 that was under the influence of Clonazapman on April 2, 2009 when she was driving a car and collided with another vehicle, killing Carole Crawford, Meaghan Crawford and Kelsey Kuhn.

On February 19, 2010, that patient pleaded guilty to three felony charges of Driving a Motor Vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances and drugs, causing the death of another person, according to the complaint.

As part of her plea, the patient acknowledged that she had been addicted to her prescribed medication and had been abusing those drugs for a lengthy period.

The complaint does not list the patient's name, but WSAZ.com covered this story and Erma Brown is the woman who pleaded guilty in the case.

Meaghan and Kelsey were students at St. Joe's High School. Carole was Meaghan's mother.

Brown's sentencing was postponed on Monday, but it is now scheduled for Monday, April 10.

Before Brown was arrested, Dawson continued to prescribed Controlled Substances to Brown at weekly intervals. The drugs include Clonazepam and Oxycodone.

The board says in the document, Dawson "has engaged in dishonorable, unethical and unprofessional conduct of a character likely to harm the public, all which is basis for disciplinary action..."

The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy is expected to have a hearing to take up this matter on April 20.

The board believes Dawson "is an immediate danger to the public, not only to her own patients, but also to the public at large."

No criminal charges have been filed against Dawson.

Dr. Dawson tells the Associated Press that s she is cooperating with authorities.

She also declined further comment, saying the investigation is
ongoing.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.


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