A Virginia doctor could spend the rest of her life in prison after being convicted of illegally prescribing painkillers to her patients. A jury in Roanoke federal court found Linda Cheek guilty of 172 counts of prescribing drugs without a valid DEA registration or using one issued to another doctor.
Cheek, who is 64, is free on bond and will be sentenced in June. She wrote several guest columns for National Pain Report about her legal troubles – claiming she and other doctors were victims of a government conspiracy targeting physicians who prescribe opioid painkillers.
Cheek’s license to practice medicine in Virginia was suspended in 2008 after she was convicted of Medicare fraud. Although it was later reinstated, Cheek no longer had a valid DEA license to prescribe drugs.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors described in detail how Cheek used the DEA registration of Dr. Kathleen Schultz, a semi-retired physician who worked in Cheek’s Dublin office. Cheek used Schultz’s license over 80 times to write prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone and other painkillers – often without Schultz ever seeing the patient.
Cheek wrote prescriptions for patients five times herself using her own revoked DEA license.
Prosecutors said Cheek only accepted cash or credit card payments from her patients.
“Money, money, money,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Waering told the jury in closing arguments, according to the Roanoke Times.
“Although Linda Cheek wasn’t getting rich, you can see that the pain management practice brought in a substantial amount of money.”
Cheek did not testify during the trial and her lawyers did not present any evidence. They portrayed her as a doctor who didn’t realize she was breaking the law.
“Her underlying concern in this case has been for her patients, a very difficult population of chronic pain patients,” defense attorney Rhonda Overstreet told the jury.
The jury deliberated just four hours before reaching its guilty verdict on 172 counts. Cheek was acquitted of a single count of maintaining a medical practice as a drug involved premise.
“Despite losing her license to prescribe medication, Dr. Cheek repeatedly provided pain medication to vulnerable patients. Her motive was greed, and she collected thousands of dollars over the course of her illegal scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy.
“We will continue to investigate and prosecute health care providers like Linda Cheek who circumvent the rules and illegally dispense these highly addictive substances.”
Cheek was unavailable for comment about her conviction.
In this YouTube video posted ten months ago, Cheek spoke about her prescribing of pain medication and the “Government’s War on Pain Doctors.”