Eagle doctor hit with new criminal charges

Federal prosecutors have added 34 charges to accusations that Michael Minas, a family practice physician, provided oxycodone and other drugs to patients without a legitimate medical reason.

In a new indictment issued last week, Minas is accused of prescribing 2,280 tablets of 30 mg-strength oxycodone to one patient over two years and 4,720 pills to a second patient over eight months. The powerful pain reliever has a wide history of abuse.

Minas stopped practicing medicine last June, the same month he was arrested outside his Eagle office. In October, he agreed to plead guilty to three of 17 charges then pending against him. He later changed his mind and asserted he was innocent.

Since then, federal prosecutors have twice gone to a federal grand jury with new allegations. With the original 17 counts from last June, 95 added in November and the 34 from last week, Minas now faces 146 felony charges of distribution of a controlled substance.

All but the initial charges came from prescriptions Minas wrote to his patients. The original 17 charges came from prescriptions given to three undercover officers, mostly for oxycodone and one for the anti-anxiety drug diazepam.

Each charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million and at least three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors say Minas, 49, did not follow accepted standards and practices for dispensing pain medication. He doled out pills with minimal or no patient evaluation or treatment plan, starting patients at a high dose and increasing the dosage without legitimate medical purpose. The indictment says Minas gave minimal, if any, consideration to medical alternatives or discussions with patients about the risk of becoming dependent on the drugs.

Several of the charges indicate that Minas noted on prescriptions that it was OK to refill early. In one case, the prescription included the note, “MD aware high dose.”

The case was investigated by the Tactical Diversion Squad, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and including local, state and other federal law enforcement officers.

Minas was freed pending trial but prohibited from writing prescriptions or practicing medicine except to transfer patient records to other providers. He was ordered to relinquish his prescription pads.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Larry Boyle.