Wisconsin Psychiatrist John D. Whelan Sentenced to 4 Years Prison on Federal Drug Conviction

March 6, 2024

Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on March 4, 2024, John D. Whelan (age: 77), a psychiatrist, was sentenced to a term of 48 months’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and lying to federal agents, in violation of  21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C) &846, and 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

At the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Brett H. Ludwig described Whelan as committing an “extremely serious drug offense,” in which Whelan engaged in a scheme to distribute controlled substance prescriptions in exchange for cash. Judge Ludwig recounted how Whelan made more than a quarter of a million dollars by selling improper and illicit prescriptions, abusing his position as a physician. While imposing sentence, Judge Ludwig explained that a significant punishment was necessary because of the serious nature of the offense and to send a message that the “rules apply to everyone, even if you go to medical school.”

“If someone had cash, Mr. Whelan was willing to sell them controlled substances regardless of their actual medical need and regardless of whether the individuals were simply abusing these drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Haanstad.  “Rather than seeking to truly care for his patients, Mr. Whelan sought simply to fund a lavish lifestyle.  I commend everyone who worked together to pursue justice in this case.”

“Our communities deserve honest and trustworthy medical doctors. Individuals betraying this trust through the illegal prescribing of controlled substances will be investigated to the fullest extent of the law by the DEA. Today’s sentence reinforces the value of local and federal law enforcement working alongside prosecutors to hold rogue practitioners accountable for their actions,” remarked Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge John G.D. McGarry.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lake Winnebago Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group (LWAM)-Drug Unit investigated the case, which Assistant United States Attorneys Julie F. Stewart and Kevin Knight prosecuted.

Source: “Fond Du Lac psychiatrist sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment for unlawful distribution of controlled substances,” press release of United States Attorney’s Office for Eastern District of Wisconsin, Mar. 5, 2024, URL: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/fond-du-lac-psychiatrist-sentenced-48-months-imprisonment-unlawful-distribution


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