The following is a release from the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone:
Kathaleen Porter, 61, of Needham Heights, pleaded guilty Friday in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn to charges of illegally prescribing controlled substances (six counts) and furnishing false information in an application. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Merita Hopkins sentenced the defendant to two years in the house of correction, which was suspended to five years probation including house arrest for one year. The judge ordered the following conditions of probation: during house arrest the defendant is allowed to leave the home only to transport her minor child, go to doctor’s appointments and religious services; must complete 100 hours of community service; and commit no crimes. As a condition, the defendant surrendered her medical license and DEA license. She is prohibited from re-applying for a medical license or a DEA license in Massachusetts or any other state.
“This defendant, a registered and licensed doctor, deliberately failed to address her patients’ needs in a medically responsible manner, causing them to develop crippling addictions to prescription drugs,” District Attorney Leone said. “By pleading guilty, the defendant has taken responsibility for jeopardizing the health of her patients by feeding their addictions with no legitimate medical purpose. We commend the Massachusetts State Police’s Drug Diversion Unit, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Unit, and the members of the Middlesex District Attorney Office’s PACT Unit whose great collaborative work allowed us to hold the defendant accountable.”
According to authorities, in the winter of 2009, the Massachusetts State Police Diversion Unit received a complaint from a pharmacy in Framingham regarding the amount of prescriptions for Percocet being filled by a certain customer. Upon further inquiry into these prescriptions, State Police discovered that the patient was utilizing approximately 12 different pharmacies to fill prescriptions, but would not utilize the pharmacy closest to his home. State Police began an inquiry to determine who was writing the prescriptions or if they were forgeries. Through surveillance and interviews they learned that the patient was receiving signed prescriptions for Percocet from Dr. Kathaleen Porter.
At approximately the same time, the Unites States Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Unit was investigating the staggering amount of prescriptions for Percocet being written by Porter. A continuation of the investigation revealed that the defendant was a surgeon who practiced in the town of Natick and usually conducted surgical procedures at Metro-West Hospital. The investigation revealed that Porter had three patients who were receiving an alarming amount of Percocet prescriptions. During the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, each patient would receive prescriptions from Porter for large amounts of Percocet pills.
During the investigation, Porter admitted to being the surgeon for the three named patients and prescribing the pills. Additionally, she admitted that she had not physically examined nor properly viewed the patients for a year and a half while prescribing the Percocet. Each patient confirmed that they would simply call Porter’s phone and ask for the Percocet, they would sometimes direct her as to how much to give them and how many prescriptions they would need. Porter would then, without seeing the patient, write the prescription and tape it to her closed office door. The three patients would pick up the prescriptions and fill them at various pharmacies. Each patient confirms that they are drug dependant and are seeking treatment and sobriety. The total amount of pills for all three patients was tens of thousands of Percocet pills.
Porter was not billing any insurance company or Mass Health, however, her unrelated surgical actions were under review by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine since 2007. During her application for renewal of her DEA license to handle controlled substances, which includes prescribing, she falsely stated that there was no action pending regarding her state license.
The defendant was indicted by a Middlesex grand jury on August 16, 2011. She was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on September 1, 2011 where Judge Bruce Henry released the defendant with the conditions that she surrender her Schedule II Drug Enforcement Administration License, ordered not travel outside of New England without prior court approval, ordered to surrender her passport, ordered not commit any new offenses, and required to update the Department of Public Health with respect to her new license status.
This case was investigated by the Massachusetts State Police’s Diversion Unit, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Unit and the Middlesex District Attorney Office’s PACT Unit.
The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Elisha Willis.