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Greeneville doctor pleads guilty to federal drug, health care fraud charges

Matthew Lane • Jun 4, 2014 at 6:42 AM

GREENEVILLE — A former Greeneville doctor who smoked and distributed crack cocaine at his substance abuse treatment facility pleaded guilty Monday to federal drug and health care fraud charges.

Robert Wayne Locklear, 45, appeared in U.S. District Court in Greeneville and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He also agreed to pay $50,600 in restitution for his crimes.

Locklear faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

The original 17-count indictment against Locklear, filed in March, charged him with conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine, possession of cocaine base, conspiracy to defraud a health care benefit program, and 13 counts of health care fraud.

According to a plea agreement, Locklear was licensed to practice medicine in the state of Tennessee and operated two businesses in Greeneville, Trinity Internal Medicine and Sleep and Trinity Recovery Clinic. The latter was an office-based substance abuse treatment program where people with opioid addictions were treated with Suboxone or Subutex in an outpatient setting.

While operating these businesses, prosecutors say, Locklear developed addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine and smoked crack cocaine a few times a day, before, during and after work. Over time, his excessive drug use resulted in his coming into the office to see patients only sparingly, the plea agreement states.

Locklear admitted to going back to the office at night to run the Suboxone clinic and seeing patients while he had "a buzz." He further admitted in the plea agreement he distributed crack cocaine on occasions to others.

To maintain his Suboxone practice, Locklear told his office staff to continue to see patients, call in their prescriptions for Suboxone and order urine drug screens in his absence, despite knowing that no employee/medical assistant at his practice was properly licensed or trained to provide these requisite medical services. Locklear authorized prescriptions for medications, including Suboxone, to be distributed to patients he had neither seen, given physical examinations nor determined sufficient medical necessity for medication.

On numerous occasions, drug screens came back positive for the presence of other illegal drugs, but the patients still continued to get their Suboxone prescriptions.

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners suspended Locklear's medical license in July 2013 after a former employee said she was fired by Locklear after refusing to smoke crack cocaine with him. The TBME ruled Locklear engaged in unprofessional and unethical conduct and deemed him unsafe to practice medicine.

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