- North Carolina doctor Michael Alson Smith is accused of coercing patients seeking help for opiate addictions to trade sex for drug prescriptions
- Smith is said to have used the bartering system on at least seven female patients
- At least one of the patients had sex with him while her children were in the room
- Smith billed government health programs for those sex-for-drugs office visits
A North Carolina doctor is accused of trading his female patients powerful prescription drugs for sex, then billing Medicaid and Medicare for the office visit appointments.
Dr. Michael Alson Smith is said to have bartered sex with at least seven of his patients, including those seeking help for opiate addictions, at his Mt. Holly Family Practice in Mount Holly, North Carolina, in exchange for prescriptions of heavily-controlled drugs during 2017, according to court documents filed Thursday.
On at least one occasion, Smith is said to have had sex with a female patient in the exam room while her three-year-old daughter was nearby.
Dr. Michael Alson Smith, owner of Mt. Holly Family Practice, in North Carolina, is accused of trading his female patients drugs for sex, as well as submitting fraudulent office visit bills to government health organization
Prosecutors alleged in the court documents, obtained by the Charlotte Observer, that Smith then regularly bilked Medicaid and Medicare by sending in bills seeking reimbursement for the office visits in which he had sex with the patients, but didn’t perform any actual medical examinations or treatments on them.
The patients, who Smith allegedly wrote the fraudulent prescriptions for, were said to have submitted claims for the cost of filling the prescriptions to the government agencies.
Smith’s Mt. Holly Family Practice, which he owned, ran a federally-approved opioid treatment program that treated numerous pain management and substance abuse patients, the court documents revealed.
Smith allegedly began trading drugs for sex in January 2017, continuing the scheme for about 10 months.
The incident in which Smith is accused of having sex with a woman while her toddler daughter was in the exam room is said to have occurred in August 2017. The woman had gone to see Smith for help with an opiate addiction.
After the sexual encounter, but without giving her a medical exam, Smith is said to have written the woman a prescription for a stronger dosage of the anti-anxiety medication Clonazepam, which can produce a euphoric high when abused.
On September 11, the same woman returned, this time allegedly having sex with Smith while her three-month-old son was in the room with them.
In exchange for the sex, Smith allegedly gave the woman new prescriptions for Clonazepam, as well as opiate withdrawal-combating drug Buprenorphine HCL,
The next day, on September 12, Smith is said to have sent in a bill to the NC Medicaid program for $78.76 to cover the woman’s visit. Medicaid also dished out $131.60 for the prescriptions Smith wrote for her.
Court documents showed that prior to the incident with this woman, Smith had propositioned another female patient seeking addiction and pain management treatment from him in January 2017.
Although the second woman initially refused to comply with the sex-for-drugs arrangement, she gave in when Smith allegedly threatened to end her treatment.
Prosecutors said that Smith had sex with at least seven female patients in his practice’s exam rooms, including at least two occasions in which the woman’s children were in the same room
Over the next 10 months, the woman is said to have gone to Smith’s office to have sex with him, after which he prescribed her drugs without giving her any medical examinations.
All told, Smith is alleged to have written fraudulent prescriptions for more than 2,800 pills combined of Oxycodone Acetaminophen, Buprenorpine HCL, Alprazolam (commonly sold as mild tranquilizer Xanax) and Clonazepam.
Between the alleged fraudulent office visits and prescription drug costs, government health programs doled out at least $9,910, WYFF reported.
Prosecutors also said that Smith used the Medicaid and personal information of one of his patient-victims, so that he could commit at least one felony. It was not immediately clear what those felonies were, however.
Smith’s practice appears to have been shuttered in the wake of the NC Medical Board’s suspension of Smith’s medical license in October 2017 on the basis of ‘immoral and dishonorable conduct.’
Smith has apparently agreed to plead guilty to illegal drug distribution, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.
There is not yet a date for when he will formally sign the plea or when he will be sentenced, according to the Gaston Gazette.
The maximum sentences for the crimes are more than 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.