Jury convicts Eagle doctor of unlawful opioid prescriptions

Michael Minas
Michael Minas

A Boise jury on Thursday returned guilty verdicts on 80 charges against Michael Minas, 50, finding that he unlawfully distributed drugs without a legitimate medical purpose, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.

Jurors also found him not guilty of 59 of the charges against him, according to a news release. The jury deliberated for five days before reaching its verdict.

Minas, who said he properly examined patients before prescribing increasing amounts of a powerful painkiller, is scheduled for sentencing July 26 at the U.S. courthouse in Boise.

“Today’s verdict sends the clear message that where medical professionals behave more like drug dealers than doctors, they will be investigated and prosecuted, just like drug dealers,” Olson said. “The evidence in this case proved that Michael Minas prescribed highly addictive controlled substances, including oxycodone 30 mg and fentanyl, without obtaining proper medical histories, without performing proper physical examinations, and without proper, if any, medical documentation.

“His patients often became even more addicted to these powerful substances, and he repeatedly allowed early refills for those on extraordinarily high dosages.”

Minas operated the River Medical Family Practice in Eagle until a federal grand jury indicted him in June 2014.

Most of the prescriptions prosecutors questioned were for oxycodone. The jury heard evidence that Minas wrote prescriptions for extraordinary amounts, such as 240, 300 and 420 oxycodone. Prosecutors also alleged that he often wrote prescriptions at intervals of two or three weeks, but wrote dosage instructions on the prescriptions indicating that it was a month’s supply.

Minas generally charged $100 cash for an appointment, prosecutors said. Several former employees testified that the practice transitioned over time from a standard family practice to one catering to patients claiming chronic pain and seeking opioid drugs.

Minas had been released pending trial. During that time, he has been prohibited from writing prescriptions and from engaging in the practice of medicine except for the limited purpose of transferring patient records so that patients may see other providers. He also was required to relinquish any prescription pads in his possession.

Minas faces a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $1 million and at least three years of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration-led Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes officers from Ada County, Boise, Nampa, Meridian and the Idaho State Police.