|Thursday, January 22, 2004
New charges pile up on pain doctor
|The new counts against Cecil Byron Knox and two associates come less than three months after a Roanoke jury did not convict them on any charges.
By Jen McCaffery
A federal grand jury in Charlottesville returned new charges against Roanoke pain specialist Cecil Byron Knox and two associates Wednesday.
The new counts against Knox, his office manager Beverly Gale Boone, and licensed professional counselor Willard Newbill "Bill" James Jr. are the latest development in the case against them. This indictment replaces the old charges they faced, and it reflects some information that came out at their first trial.
The charges come less than three months after Knox, Boone and James stood trial for about eight weeks in federal court in Roanoke. The jury voted to acquit them on about half of the 69 charges that remained at the end of trial, and could not reach a verdict on the other counts. Federal judge Samuel Wilson dismissed all charges against the fourth defendant in the case, Kathleen O'Gee.
In the first trial, both Knox and Boone faced potential life sentences in connection with 17 prescriptions that federal prosecutors Rusty Fitzgerald and Patrick Hogeboom argued led to the death or serious injury of nine of Knox's patients.
Boone was acquitted on all of those counts. Knox was also acquitted of most of the counts, but the jury deadlocked on the question of prescriptions issued to Monte Kidd, Michael Debusk and Chris Ann Brown.
Knox now faces 14 counts that he prescribed medication outside the scope of legitimate medical practice to Brown, Kidd and Debusk and a potential life sentence on each of those charges.
Eleven of those counts correspond to prescriptions of OxyContin and OxyIR issued to Brown, a patient Knox treated while she was pregnant. Federal prosecutors alleged in the first trial that her baby daughter suffered from life-threatening withdrawal from painkillers after she was born.
Tony Anderson and John Lichtenstein, defense attorneys for Knox and his practice, Southwest Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, argued during the trial that Brown's obstetrician knew about and did not object to Knox's prescription of painkillers to Brown during her pregnancy. They declined to comment on the new indictment Wednesday.
Two other counts relate to Knox's prescription of the painkillers Actiq and morphine sulfate to Kidd, who lived in Salem. Kidd died in 2001, but his son testified during Knox's first trial that Knox told his father not to take the Actiq with the morphine sulfate.
The final overdose count relates to a methadone prescription to Michael Debusk, who died in 2001.
The perjury charge in the case also stems from Knox's treatment of Brown.
Federal prosecutors say that Knox lied when he testified at his trial that Brown told him she was afraid she could not carry her baby to term and that she might have to abort it because of the pain she was experiencing.
Knox, 54, also faces 64 counts of prescribing medication outside the scope of legitimate medical practice to five patients. The new indictment contains a total of 95 charges.
Knox increased the income generated from his medical practice more than 250 percent from 1996 to 2000 as part of what federal prosecutors say is a criminal pattern that included racketeering, fraud, kickback payments and drug trafficking, the new indictment also alleges.
The new indictment also includes the new allegation, which came out at the first trial, that Knox ranked fifth out of 187,453 OxyContin prescribers around the United States based on the value of the drug he prescribed. The indictment also alleges that he repeatedly prescribed the stimulant Fastin to one of his patients with the understanding that the patient would split the medication with him.
Knox and Boone, 44, still also face charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, criminal conspiracy, mail fraud and health care fraud, as well as charges that they were part of an illegal kickback scheme.
James also faces criminal conspiracy, mail fraud and health care fraud charges.
Knox's former practice is no longer charged in the case at all.