KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) – A Howard County doctor accused of overprescribing powerful painkillers that led to patient overdoses has pleaded guilty to seven felony drug dealing charges.
The Kokomo Tribune reports Dr. Don Wagoner agreed to the deal before a judge late Wednesday. He had been scheduled to go before a jury next month.
The 78-year-old, who agreed to give up his medical license last year, could face up to 30 years in prison, though much of that sentence would likely be suspended, a Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman told I-Team 8. Copies of the plea agreement will not be filed and available until Thursday, but prosecutors confirmed the agreement calls for prison time, the newspaper reported.
I-Team 8’s calls to Howard County Prosecutors and to Wagoner’s attorneys Stephanie Doran and Jim Voyles were not returned Wednesday afternoon.
Police say Wagoner’s clinics in Burlington and Kokomo were operating as “pill mills,” overprescribing dangerous painkillers that led to numerous overdoses.
I-Team 8 investigations in 2013 found as many as 27 patient deaths may be linked to alleged overprescribing at the clinic. A DEA investigation in 2012 resulted in 95 felony counts against Wagoner and eight other employees, including his wife Marilyn.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the Wagoner’s clinic was known as “the place to go if you wanted prescription drugs.” Former patients and former employees both told I-Team 8 that the Wagoner clinics were “cash and carry,” where patients paid their bills in full of up to $400 a week before being handed a prescription to get narcotics like hydrocodone, Xanax and Oxycontin.
Some patients were prescribed up to 500 methadone or hydrocodone pills per month, according to the probable cause.
Wagoner originally faced 20 felony counts related to dealing narcotics or conspiracy to deal narcotics.
The eight additional employees charged in connection with the case are still awaiting trial.
Wagoner is scheduled to be sentenced under the plea agreement in July.