Craig, CO Doctor Found Guilty of Prescribing Without Legitimate Medical Purpose, Resulting in the Death of One Patient
DENVER – Dr. Joel Miller, who owned and operated High Country Medical in Craig, CO, was convicted by a jury yesterday in the District of Colorado on six counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose, one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose resulting in death, and one count of providing false information on his Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Registration Application.
Dr. Miller was initially arrested in August, 2013 pursuant to a 34-count federal Indictment, which also included charges of health care fraud and money laundering. The investigation of Dr. Miller’s “pill mill” operation dated back to 2009, and he was brought to the attention of federal authorities by investigators with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office. Dr. Miller prescribed excessive amounts and dangerous combinations of prescription narcotics to patients across the Western slope of Colorado. Dr. Miller had residences in Steamboat Springs and Hayden, CO.
“This doctor distributed narcotics to make money, not to help patients, and he killed a patient in the process. He testified at trial that he viewed his duty not to harm patients as ‘a PR thing'”, said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Thanks to enormous, tenacious effort by a group of skilled and dedicated law enforcement partners, his many victims now have some justice.”
“Prescription drug abuse is at an epidemic level”, stated Barbra Roach, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Denver Field Division. “Those who would profit from the illegal distribution of these potentially very dangerous drugs will be held accountable. The question must be asked – what is the difference between these individuals and street level drug dealers when the actions of both cost lives?”
The conviction of Dr. Miller marks the first such “resulting in death” conviction by jury trial in the District of Colorado. On November 16, 2015, the court will set a sentencing date for Dr. Miller. Due to the conviction for unlawful distribution without legitimate medical purpose resulting in death, Dr. Miller faces a sentence of 20 to life imprisonment.
In addition to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office and the Craig (CO) Police Department were involved in this successful investigation and prosecution.