Margaret Knowle, Wisconsin Psychiatrist, Sentenced to Prison, supplied herself with drugs by writing prescriptions in other doctor’s names

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Stevens Point Journal
Former Stevens Point psychiatrist sent to prison
Kevin Murphy
May 9, 2017

MADISON – A former central Wisconsin psychiatrist who supplied herself with amphetamines by writing prescriptions in other doctors’ names was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to 16 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Margaret “Meg” Knowles, who practiced psychiatry in the Stevens Point area, faced four years in prison after pleading guilty in March to attempting to obtain a drug by fraud.

Knowles, 53, of Amherst, was indicted in October on one count of prescription fraud and four counts of conspiring with four people between 2011 and 2014 to obtain Adderall, a medication used to treat attention deficit disorder.

Knowles had a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and had been in practice for more than 20 years, but her downfall came when she got involved in an abusive relationship, her attorney, Robert Ruth, wrote the court.

Like many abused women, the attorney wrote, she did not report most of the man’s abuse to the police as she did not want him to get into trouble. She did obtain a no-contact order against him in Portage County after telling a judge the man had trashed her house, gave her a black eye and made repeated threats against her life, Ruth wrote the court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita Rumbelow told District Judge James Peterson that she had no specific sentencing recommendation but did not agree with Ruth’s request for probation only for Knowles. Rumbelow said Knowles’ deception involved her patients in her criminal scheme to obtain drugs instead of providing them with the treatment they needed.

Knowles told Peterson that she was “sincerely sorry” for what she had done and with the help of doctors “was in a better place.”

Ruth asked Peterson to factor Knowles’ loss of her medical license and reputation in the community into a punishment he would impose. Also, her substance abuse and mental illness should be considered mitigating factors in the crime.

Peterson said Knowles’ criminal conduct warranted prison time because it was sustained, damaging and involved deception that “still makes her a danger to others.”

Knowles posed as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a corporate attorney to thwart the investigation and other doctors during the course of her crime, Peterson said. Although her medical license is “on hold,” according to a spokesperson for the Department of Safety and Professional Services, Knowles could still put her ability to manipulate and deceive others to another use, Peterson said.

Some of the overprescribed levels of medications Knowles wrote for her patients got into the community as they sold them to others, the judge said.

Knowles also has not fully “come to grips” with her substance abuse problem despite seeking leniency at sentencing for it and engaging in some “very ambitious drug-seeking behavior which led to criminality,” Peterson said.

Margaret Knowle