Delaware prosecutors are seeking to revoke the professional licenses of a Dover psychiatrist who they allege prescribed controlled substances to an addict who later died by heroin overdose, traded medical treatment for guns and is “unable to practice medicine safely, professionally or ethically.”
The News Journal
‘Egregious misconduct’ could cost Dover psychiatrist Villabona his license
May 29, 2018
Gregory Villabona, whose license has been on and off probation for 15 years, could lose his licenses to practice medicine and prescribe controlled substances.
On Monday, Villabona attended the first of several administrative hearings that will result in a recommendation to the board of medical licensure and discipline.
Villabona attorney Andre Beauregard called the allegations “a witch hunt” that has created national headlines about sex, drugs and guns.
“We believe the matters before this hearing were cherrypicked by the state,” he said in his opening statement, adding that the emergency suspension in March was unnecessary.
“Where is the emergency? This goes to the slanted story that’s being painted … It’s not an emergency at all.”
Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples said in opening that Villabona’s “egregious misconduct” includes prescribing narcotics to “patients known to be addicts or patients known to have red flags for substance abuse.”
Villabona prescribed oxycodone to one patient, even after law enforcement officials told him that the patient was receiving narcotics from multiple healthcare providers and was court-ordered to participate in a substance abuse treatment program, according to a complaint from the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation.
The patient died of a heroin overdose months later.
Six other patients received pain medication without regular monitoring, treatment plans or record keeping, the complaint said.
The state also said that Villabona is not complying with previous medical board orders and that he gave a handgun and switchblade to a patient, ingested that patient’s prescribed stimulants and has “bartered” medical services for guns and yard work.
The Attorney General’s Office asked Secretary of State Jeff Bullock to order the emergency suspension of Villabona’s controlled substances registration in March based on the “imminent danger he poses to public health.”
This isn’t the first time Villabona’s medical license was suspended. He has been on and off probation since 2003 stemming from sexual offenses with two minors in Maryland and consensual sex with a former adult patient that “exploited the doctor-patient privilege,” along with probation violations.
Plerhoples said Villabona displays a “willful and blatant disregard for prior board orders and failure or inability to comply with prescription regulations.”
Beauregard said prosecutors conducted a “tabloid investigation … to make people want to hate Dr. Villabona.” He added the worst that the chief hearing officer, Roger Akin, will find is that Villabona had poor housekeeping skills.
“He was somewhat sloppy in keeping his records,” he said. “But of his 40 patients, the majority would say he was a good doctor.”
Beauregard recommended his client take a course in record-keeping, be put on probation, and be put under closer supervision by the state for a number of years.
At Monday’s hearing, two witnesses were called, including one of Villabona’s former office workers. She said she left her job in part because “there were certain things going on I couldn’t overlook anymore.”
The former employee described situations in which patients allegedly traded guns or lawn mowing services for treatment.
She also said that Villabona, who the state alleges bought prescription pills from patients, told her that “certain patients would do just about anything for a little bit of money.”
Another witness, a patient and longtime friend of Villabona, said that he removed a gun and knife from Villabona’s office to “help” him when investigators visited the office.
The man, who said it was difficult to testify against his friend, also said Villabona gave him cash on several occasions in exchange for pills the doctor prescribed. Even when he stopped taking the pills, he continued to fill prescriptions from Villabona, the man said.
He said he did it because he worried if he didn’t, his access to other prescriptions would be cut off.
“I felt intimidated a bit,” the witness said. “I felt I needed to, to get the medicine I needed.”
Hearings will continue through next week and will conclude with Chief Hearing Officer Akin’s recommendation to the board of medical licensure and discipline.
File a complaint against a psychiatrist – PsychSearch
World’s Largest Collection of Records on Psychiatrists – PsychSearch.net
Join our Facebook Group PsychSearch!
Follow us on Twitter: @PsychSearch