By MELINDA WILLIAMS
ROANOKE – Trial got underway in U.S. District Court in Roanoke this week for a doctor accused of illegally distributing controlled substances out of her Dublin office.
According to Brian McGinn, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Western District office, the trial of Dr. Linda Sue Cheek of New River Medical Associates is expected to take about two weeks to complete. Jury selection started Monday.
A federal grand jury indicted Cheek in May in a 173-count indictment alleging she was prescribing controlled medications without a valid Drug Enforcement Administration registration.
Cheek’s license to practice medicine was suspended in 2008 after she pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the government Medicaid and Medicare healthcare programs. Her license was re-instated in February 2009, then re-suspended in July 2011.
Even though her license to practice medicine was reinstated in 2009, it “did not, and could not, reinstate her DEA Certificate of Registration” allowing her to prescribe medications, states the indictment for which she is now on trial. It says her application for a DEA number was specifically denied in October 2011.
Cheek, 63, is charged with 86 counts of distributing scheduled controlled substances without holding a valid certificate of DEA Registration, 81 counts of using a DEA registration number issued to another person, five counts of using a DEA registration number which has been revoked or suspended, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premise (28 Town Center Drive in Dublin).
Although it is unlikely she would receive the maximum sentence if convicted on all counts, Cheek faces up to 1,224 years in federal prison and a $65 million fine.
In a written response to the charges emailed to The Southwest Times in May, Cheek contends the charges are a government attack on pain management physicians “based on erroneous thought – that the pill causes addiction.”
She added, “Pills don’t cause addiction. Anxiety, despair and toxicity cause addiction. Dr. Cheek’s alternative medicine helped prevent addiction by treating toxicity. Now, with the situation in this country of pain not being treated, more addiction is created by the Justice Department than any physician ever could.
If convicted of one or more of the offenses alleged in the indictment, the government is seeking to require forfeiture of any property Cheek derived from them, including money and real property (specifically 28-32 Town Center Drive).
If the money or property cannot be located, is transferred or sold to a third party, is moved outside the court’s jurisdiction, is substantially diminished in value or is commingled with other property, the government states an intent to pursue forfeiture of other property, including Cheek’s residence on Miller Ridge Road in Dublin.