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Psychiatrist Sentenced to Prison For Financial Crimes, Illegal Distribution of Methamphetamine

Psychiatrist Sentenced to Prison For Financial Crimes, Illegal Distribution of Methamphetamine

A Colorado psychiatrist has been sentenced to prison for financial crimes and illegal distribution of controlled substances. 

Per an official release from the IRS, Howard Weiss, a resident of Greenwood Village, will spend six months in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine "outside the usual course of professional practice", for structuring financial transactions specifically for tax evasion purposes, and for engaging in criminal monetary transactions greater than $10,000. Following his time in prison, the 69-year-old defendant will spend ten months in home confinement, concurrent with three years of probation . 

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United States District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico also ordered Weiss to forfeit $826,083.24 in criminal proceeds, pay $150,000 in community restitution, and surrender both his medical license and his license to prescribe any controlled substance. 

Weiss entered a plea agreement for a reduced prison sentence. The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who initially began looking into the former doctor due to his financial dealings, reports related to his patients' sales of controlled substances provided by him, and one patient's overdose death. Ultimately, federal authorities determined that Weiss was prescribing methamphetamine to multiple psychiatric patients.

Methamphetamine is officially categorized as a Schedule II stimulant. As most Americans know, it is often abused and has a high risk of addiction. According to the IRS, the FDA has approved a single methamphetamine product for medical use in extremely unusual circumstances. Weiss not only prescribed methamphetamine on multiple occasions, but combined these prescriptions with prescriptions for high-dose sedatives known as poly-drugs. In addition, court documents indicate that the defendant also regularly prescribed stimulants like Adderall in much higher dosages than normal. 

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Weiss's activities came under particular scrutiny in July 2017, when one of his psychiatric patients was arrested after arriving at a drug deal with 119 methamphetamine pills prescribed by the doctor. It was determined that these pills had no legitimate medical purpose. 

Furthermore, as previously noted, the defendant knowingly engaged in illegal financial transactions. Federal regulations prohibit accountholders from structuring their deposits to avoid banks' reporting requirements for deposits that exceed $10,000. From November 2015 through February 2018, Weiss tried to avoid these reporting requirements forty-five times, making deposits between $9,000 and $9,999. Additionally, bank tellers contacted authorities several times stating that Weiss would arrive to make cash deposits, then decline to actually deposit amounts of $10,000.

Andy Tsui, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI Denver Field Office, said,  "IRS-CI Special Agents are experts in uncovering the financial schemes criminals use to hide money gained through illegal activities. Weiss's desire for money, and his disregard for the welfare of his patients, led to an investigation into his financial activity and ultimately the severe financial penalties that were handed down today [June 6]."

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"Howard Weiss knowingly and unlawfully distributed controlled substances outside the usual course of practice for no other purpose than greed," Acting Special Agent in Charge David S. Olesky added, "Thanks to the dedicated team at the DEA Rocky Mountain Field Division, the IRS-CI Denver Office and our U.S. Attorney's Office, Weiss ended up losing more than he gained and will never lawfully practice medicine again."

What do you think about the Weiss case?

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Rebekah Barton

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