GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4/AP) — A Craig doctor accused of improperly dispensing drugs that led to the deaths of two patients appeared in court Wednesday in Grand Junction.
Dr. Joel Miller faces charges of health care fraud, money-laundering and distributing and dispensing controlled substances.
An indictment alleges he tried to defraud health care benefits programs by prescribing painkillers to patients who didn’t necessarily need them at dosages that could cause someone to become addicted.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Denver says Miller also is accused of pre-signing prescriptions and allowing office employees to distribute prescriptions in his absence. Miller disputes the charges.
The hearing on Wednesday went on so long it’s being continued into next week. The U.S. attorney’s office painted a picture of Miller as a violent and dangerous drug dealer, saying that several years ago he stopped acting as a doctor and acted as a drug pusher, and his office was just actually a pill mill.
The investigation into Miller has been going on for several years and he hasn’t practiced medicine since August of 2012. On the witness stand a deputy from Moffatt County said he had been approached by several people in the medical community urging an investigation into Miller’s prescription habits.
On Facebook there’s a group called “Support Dr. Joel Miller” where many people had good things to say about him, including how he’s saved lives in the past.
Testimony in court also alleges Miller is a drug abuser himself. He’s facing a very long time in custody if convicted as two of the 35 charges carry the potential for life in prison.
Miller will be back in court on Tuesday.
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