Question: Whatever happened to Dr. Harold C. Spear III, a Kauai physician who was charged in June 2007 with allegedly prescribing narcotics to patients he never met?
Answer: In a plea agreement, Spear pleaded guilty in July 2009 to five federal charges relating to prescriptions of illegal narcotics.
Spear is scheduled to be sentenced later this month in U.S. District Court, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Shipley.
Spear was charged with distributing narcotics to
patients over the phone without conducting examinations. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
The state Medical Board revoked his license in October 2009. Spear operated
the Hanapepe Clinic and a website, www.dialadoc.net. According to a court document, Spear charged about $125 to $175 per consultation over the phone and
prescribed controlled substances based on those phone conversations
without doing a physical exam. Prescriptions delivered to some patients included oxycodone and methadone.
For refills, pre-signed blank prescriptions were left with his administrative assistants at the Hanapepe Clinic to complete upon request.
Sentencing delays occurred due to complications with Spear’s health, changes in defense attorneys and the complexity of the case, Shipley said. Spear’s health complications were related to polio, with which he was diagnosed as a child. He had three defense attorneys who each withdrew from the case for various reasons.
Attorney Alvin Nishimura, who is currently representing Spear, could not be reached for comment.
Shipley said issues regarding how many prescriptions for each of the named victims in the indictment, the course of treatment, how far back and which particular prescriptions should be considered are all matters in dispute that the court would have to resolve.
Spear, who is free on bail in Kauai, could not be reached for comment.
After he is sentenced in federal court, he is expected to be sentenced in state court on charges he unlawfully prescribed narcotics through pre-signed prescription drug pads, according to Deputy Attorney General Gary Senaga. A plea agreement was reached with the state in which he will be sentenced to up to five years in prison to be served concurrently with any federal sentence.
This update was written by Rosemarie Bernardo. Suggest a topic for "Whatever Happened To …" by writing Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.