Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hancock kept prescribing drugs with high addiction risks

A former Hawkins County doctor was arrested in Texas Wednesday on indictments of health care fraud, unlawfully dispensing controlled substances, money laundering, income tax evasion and failure to file tax returns.

John Theodore Hancock, 47, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Greeneville, Tennessee, on September 9.

While Hancock was licensed to practice in Tennessee, the indictment alleges he operated "Hancock Family Medicine" and "Dr. John T. Hancock Family Medicine" in Mooresburg.

Hancock is accused of improperly prescribing such substances as methadone, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines for patients he didn't examine.

He's also accused of charging patients $80 to $100 in cash for each visit.

Investigators believe Hancock kept prescribing drugs with high addiction risks, even after he learned some patients were doctor shopping or selling their drugs.

The indictment also accuses Hancock of writing prescriptions patients would bring back for his personal use.

Hancock agreed to surrender his registration with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances in December 2003, then got another doctor to issue prescriptions for his patients, according to the indictment.

Since most of the prescriptions were paid for through TennCare, the indictment charges Hancock with trying to defraud that program.

Investigators believe five patients, identified in the indictment, died due to Hancock's prescribing practices.

Hancock is also charged with making financial transactions using money from health care fraud and unlawfully dispensed substances. One instance involves $16,480 in cash in February 2005. Another involves $18,552 in cash in April 2005.

The indictment alleges Hancock evaded paying income tax for 1994 and 1995 and failed to file tax returns from 2002 through 2005. During that time, investigators think he had a gross income of over $1 million.
Hancock was released on bond when he appeared in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas Wednesday. He's due in federal court in Greeneville on September 24.

If convicted, Hancock faces possible life in prison and fines of more than $2.5 million.

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