The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Doctor responds to drug allegations
A Stafford County doctor who is under investigation for what court records describe as operating a “pill mill” and a “corrupt” practice has emphatically denied any wrongdoing.
Dr. Nibedita Mohanty disputes allegations that she prolifically prescribed pain pills and committed tax and insurance fraud.
“I strongly deny the allegations set out in the news reports and the search warrant affidavit as I have not prescribed medicine to any patient who I knew or had reason to believe was abusing the drugs or selling the medicine to others,” Mohanty wrote in a letter to The Free Lance–Star.
Mohanty added that she was “shocked” on Jan. 29 when police raided her office at 422 Garrisonville Road and her home on Marlborough Point Road based on information from people she described as drug dealers, drug addicts, convicted felons and a vindictive former domestic partner. Among the items seized were patient and appointment records, insurance billing information, bank statements, computers and nearly $40,000 in cash.
Mohanty wrote that William Winfield Price, with whom she has children in common, intentionally tarnished her reputation because she had him arrested following a domestic incident last year. Price was later convicted of several misdemeanors stemming from that incident and spent time in jail.
Price was the only informant named in the affidavits, which are filed in Stafford Circuit Court. Three others were not named but described as patients who either had addictions or legal troubles associated with drugs they supposedly got from Mohanty.
In the affidavits, police described Mohanty’s North Stafford medical practice as a haven for drug abusers and dealers. Police claimed that during an investigation that began in 2011, they identified 67 patients for whom Mohanty was prescribing large amounts of narcotics. They said that 46 of them were later found to be involved in trafficking prescription drugs.
Mohanty is said to have written 13,095 prescriptions for narcotics during the last five years, or an average of 50 a week, court records state. A doctor who reviewed Mohanty’s prescribing practices said the volume of drugs, along with other factors, were indicative of “a doctor running a pill mill.”
The Stafford Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are conducting the investigation; no criminal charges had been filed as of Friday.
Mohanty, 54, has been practicing medicine in Stafford for more than 20 years and until recently served as chief of medicine at Stafford Hospital.
She wrote that she has treated thousands of patients and has no disciplinary history with the Virginia Board of Medicine. She is continuing to practice internal medicine, but wrote that she has voluntarily given up prescribing pain medication permanently.
Her attorney, Charles Roberts, said his client felt compelled to respond to the allegations even though no charges have been filed. He said she is cooperating in the investigation and has offered to sit down with lead detective N.J. Chiappini “any time, any place and any date.”
“We believe we have more than an adequate response to the allegations and it’s important to get both sides of the story before any decisions are made,” he said.
In the affidavits, Dr. Stephen Loyd was quoted as questioning several aspects of Mohanty’s practice in addition to the number of prescriptions written, including claims that some patients travel great distances to see her even though qualified doctors were much closer.
One informant told police that he went to Mohanty at the suggestion of an acquaintance who told him she’d give him anything for $250, according to the affidavits.
Price told police that Mohanty treated patients and gave injections at the couple’s home, even though there are no medical facilities there. He also claimed she had large amounts of cash stored in various places, including $350,000 in a bank safe deposit box.
Mohanty said Price talked to police while awaiting trial in hopes of improving his own legal situation and told multiple lies, including the story about the safe deposit box.
Mohanty acknowledged that it’s possible for patients to get medicine they don’t need because there are no tests to objectively verify their pain. She wrote that a doctor’s decision to prescribe narcotics is highly dependent on patient honesty.
But she said she had credible screening procedures in place and over the past years have “identified and discharged over 17 patients who were suspected of abusing their prescriptions and lying to me.”
She also said she has reported and paid taxes on all money earned from her practice.
Mohanty said all patients with severe or chronic pain are now being referred to doctors with a “higher level of skill and training” regarding pain medication.
“I wish to thank all of my patients and other members of our community for their outpouring of support during this crisis, and I anticipate this investigation ultimately will show that I have not violated any laws,” Mohanty wrote.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404