Charges dismissed against doctor, nurse

July 2005 - Charges have been dismissed against a doctor and nurse accused of illegally writing prescriptions.

In March, Rockie Curtis McDaniel, 43, of 101 Cox Cove in Campbellsville and Dr. Robert Samuel Shipp, 57, of 507 Fern Drive in Campbellsville were charged with conspiring with each other to distribute controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice.

McDaniel is a nurse practitioner and owner of McDaniel Family Medical Center, located in Columbia. Shipp is a gynecologist employed by the medical center.

According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky in Bowling Green, charges against the men were dismissed by an order entered by Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel. Goebel dismissed the charges without prejudice on June 30.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hancy Jones III said when charges are dismissed "without prejudice," they can be re-filed against a defendant. "This doesn't necessarily end the story," he said.

However, Jones said, when charges are dismissed "with prejudice," they cannot be re-filed. And although the complaints in the case have been dismissed, he said, the investigation of the claims is still ongoing.

"Dismissal without prejudice will afford the parties the opportunity to further investigate the case and its defenses without time constraints," the order states.

On June 28, a joint motion to dismiss the charges was filed by Alexander T. Taft Jr., an Assistant United States Attorney; Charles E. English Jr. of Bowling Green, McDaniel's attorney; and R. Kent Westberry of Louisville, Shipp's attorney.

English Jr. and Westberry were not able to be reached for comment for this story. However, Charles E. English Sr. said the dismissal of the charges was the appropriate resolution. He said he had limited involvement in the case and knew no other details of the dismissal.

According to the motion, after Shipp and McDaniel were arrested, the parties involved in the case filed a motion to extend the time in which to indict Shipp and McDaniel.

The motion stated the prosecutor wished to increase the period of time from 30 days to 90 days. However, the motion states, the period was extended for only an additional 30 days. The purpose of the extended time period, the motion stated, was to permit pre-indictment negotiations and discovery in the case.

Federal law, the motion stated, mandates that an indictment charging an individual must be filed within 30 days from the date in which the individual was arrested. "This matter is now beyond the 30-day time period and the extension granted by the Court," the motion stated. Not issuing an indictment within the allowed time period violates the Speedy Trial Act of 1974.

According to Black's law dictionary, the act is a federal law that sets time limits for carrying out major events in the prosecution of a criminal case. According to the order dismissing the charges, the allegations brought against Shipp and McDaniel are "serious drug trafficking offense[s]."

The order dismissing the charges states that a delay in the case, which caused a violation of the Speedy Trial Act, was accidental.

"It was the intention of the parties to afford ample time to conduct pre-indictment discovery and negotiation," the order states.

The violation of the Speedy Trial Act, according to the order, "did not result from prosecutorial bad faith, nor from any attempt to take tactical advantage of a delay."

In March, Jones said the complaint alleged that McDaniel and Shipp conspired to distribute medicine illegally. Jones said the usual distribution of medicine is done after a patient sees a doctor, is diagnosed with a medical condition and is seen as needing some type of medicine. However, he said he did not know the specific circumstances of this particular case. "Those will come clear if they are indicted."

In March, Jones said the men were charged with illegally writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV narcotics.

According to Jones, a Schedule II narcotic is the most abused type of controlled substance and Schedule III narcotics are typically painkillers and are not abused as often. Schedule IV narcotics are typically tranquilizers.

Shipp and McDaniel's medical practice was searched in July 2004 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agents. A search yielded information from more than a dozen computers as well as patient records at the Family Medical Center office in Columbia. The practice was shut down while investigators performed the search, DEA agent Gary Oetjen said last year.

"The search warrants were based upon information we received that there may have been some ongoing medical practices that, well, aren't supposed to be that way is how I'll put it," Oetjen said. "Apparently, Dr. Shipp didn't look at KASPER very much."

KASPER - the Kentucky All Scheduled Prescription Electronic Reporting system - tracks controlled substances prescribed statewide and is designed to catch patients who are "doctor shopping" for prescription drugs. Oetjen said Shipp voluntarily turned in his DEA license within 24 hours of the warrant's execution.

According to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Shipp's license to practice medicine was "restricted for an indefinite period of time" on March 17. All doctors have a DEA license, which is necessary to prescribe drugs regulated under the federal Controlled Substances Act because of their potential for addiction or abuse. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure database states that Shipp had practiced medicine in Kentucky since 1974.

According to the Kentucky Board of Nursing, McDaniel's nursing license was "temporarily suspended" on March 2, 2005. Nurse practitioners in Kentucky may prescribe non-scheduled and non-controlled drugs with some physician involvement, but may not prescribe controlled drugs, according to the American College of Nurse Practitioners.

The agreed order suspending Shipp's license states that during the July 28 search, agents seized controlled substances prescription forms that had been pre-signed by Shipp. The order states that Shipp admitted that he pre-signed controlled substance prescription blanks for McDaniel's use.

"Dr. Shipp gave Rockie McDaniel independent prescriptive authority, which allowed Nurse McDaniel to practice medicine without a license," the order states.

The order also states there was no tracking system for keeping up with the prescriptions. "[Shipp] acknowledged that it was an awkward situation with Mr. McDaniel being his boss and using his DEA. When asked if he ever confronted him about prescribing too many controlled substances, [Shipp] said he did not, but he might put an entry in the chart about needing to monitor the patient," the order states.

"Dr. Shipp's practice constitutes a danger to the health, welfare and safety of the physician's patients and general public."

If Shipp had been found guilty, the felony conviction would constitute a violation of Kentucky law, which could have warranted additional or more serious actions by the Board.

The order states that Shipp is not allowed to prescribe or dispense controlled substances or seek employment as a supervising physician and must inform the Board of all criminal charges filed against him.

Rooting out drug dealing doctors like the Taliban

March 25, 2005 - A Campbellsville doctor and the owner of the medical center where he is employed were arrested Thursday on charges of illegally writing prescriptions for controlled substances.

Kentucky State Police say 57-year-old Dr. Robert Samuel Shipp and 43-year-old Rockie Curtis McDaniel, owner of McDaniel Family Medical Center, were arrested on federal warrants and were in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.

The U.S. attorney's office said McDaniel and Shipp conspired to distribute Schedule Two, Three and Four controlled substances, outside the course of professional practice and not for legitimate purposes.

Police say an arraignment is pending. The arrests follow a two-year investigation by state and federal authorities.

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