Kansas psychiatrist Ethan Bickelhaupt pleads guilty to federal drug charges
September 3, 2010
A federal judge placed psychiatrist Ethan Bickelhaupt on three years of probation, relative to his February guilty plea to one count of unlawfully distributing controlled substances and one count of unlawfully obtaining controlled substances.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office asked Rogers to imprison Bickelhaupt to the minimum sentences on the two convictions.
In his plea, Bickelhaupt admitted the crimes took place in 2006 while he worked at the VA Medical Center in Topeka, where he taught geriatric and acute psychiatry to psychiatry residents. During that time he also claimed to have a “tiny private practice” operating out of his home, even though there was no exam room there.
He had faced a possible prison sentence of three to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on a conviction of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, and a maximum penalty of four years and a fine up to $250,000 on a conviction of unlawfully obtaining a controlled substance.
According to the plea agreement he signed, Bickelhaupt issued prescriptions to individuals who weren't patients. Those persons filled the prescriptions at pharmacies in Topeka and Lawrence, then gave the controlled substances to Bickelhaupt for his personal consumption. On occasion, he would compensate them by giving them cash or controlled substances. For example, Bickelhaupt prescribed Adderall, an amphetamine, and Tylenol 3 to individuals for use during parties at his house. The Adderall was so they could stay up late and the Tylenol 3 was to ease the discomfort of hangovers and withdrawal from using cocaine, according to the plea.
In May 2006, Bickelhaupt wrote an email to a nurse stating that getting “drunk” and “high” was his “only” interest and he wanted to share the process with friends “socially, at no cost to them.”
On December 14, 2007 the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts indefinitely suspended Bickelhaupt’s license. Kansas State Board documents state, “The Board has received reports that (Bickelhaupt) issued prescriptions for Adderall and Klonopin in the names of two high school students and then paid the students cash to pick up the prescriptions from at least two different pharmacies. The students then gave (him) the prescriptions” and “There is reasonable suspicion that (Bickelhaupt) has the inability to practice the healing arts with reasonable skill and safety to patients…”
Source: “Former psychiatrist pleads guilty in drug case,” Wichita Eagle, February 22, 2010; Final Order In the Matter of Ethan Bickelhaupt, M.D., Kansas License No. 04-18225, Docket No. 08-HA00040, Kansas Board of Healing Arts and Steve Fry, "Convicted doctor gets probation," Topeka Capital-Journal, September 3, 2010.
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