Milton doctor gets 3 months in illicit prescription scheme
By Courtney Hessler
December 13, 2019
HUNTINGTON — A former Milton psychiatrist has been sentenced to three months in prison and will be given the opportunity to continue to address his substance use disorder after admitting to writing illicit opioid prescriptions for his own gain.
Marc Spelar, 37, previously pleaded guilty in the Southern District of West Virginia to one count of illegal drug distributions related to an April 2017 prescription written for Dextroamphetamine, a scheduled II drug.
Spelar was one of 60 individuals, including 53 medical professionals, named in April as being tied to illegal activity involving 350,000 prescriptions and 32 million pills throughout seven states. The operation was conducted by the federal Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force.
He had originally been charged with 10 similar counts after being accused from 2016 to 2017 of distributing Schedule II narcotics — including Dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate and amphetamine salt — to a patient whom he had never examined and who did not have a medical need for the drugs, but had a history of abusing drugs.
U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers sentenced Spelar on Monday in federal court. Besides three months in prison, he also must serve three years of supervised release after completing his prison time and will be allowed to participate in a drug abuse treatment program during his time in custody.
Spelar previously owned Prometheus Mentis Psych PLLC in Milton, West Virginia. His license had been subject to restrictions since 2017 that prohibit him from participating in the clinical practice of medicine in the state, pending an investigation by the board after a criminal complaint was filed against him in Ironton Municipal Court in Lawrence County, Ohio.
Spelar later was convicted in that case in October 2017 of two counts of possession of drugs, felonies in the fifth degree and he was sentenced to serve four years of community controlled sanctions and intensive supervised probation. He was also required to successfully complete outpatient drug counseling.
In November 2019, members of the West Virginia Board of Medicine conducted an investigation into his prescribing of controlled substances. After reviewing 16 of his patient records, it found probable cause to substantiate charges of disqualification and his license was revoked.
Spelar has been participating in regular substance abuse treatment since December 2017. He now works as a delivery man for a pizza restaurant while living in Catlettsburg.
His attorney, Lex A. Coleman, asked Chambers for leniency in sentencing, stating his client is a low-level offender with limited criminal history. He added Spelar had been unfairly represented in the media when he was arrested in April 2019 along with other doctors as a result of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force roundup.
The attorney said the representation that Spelar’s charges were related to more than 800 prescriptions and over 17,000 opioid pills was inaccurate.
“In substance, what he did was provide two individuals suffering from opioid addiction with prescriptions for amphetamines and Suboxone outside the scope of his lawful medical practice, in exchange for those, two ‘patients’ used his scripts to buy Suboxone for themselves, while returning separately prescribed amphetamines (which he paid for) to use for himself,” he wrote in a pre-sentencing court document.
Coleman said Spelar’s unlawful activates were on a “substantially smaller scale” than the others named in the drug roundup by federal authorities and “fully associated with his addiction to amphetamines, and later heroin” in stating that Spelar unlawfully distributed just 2.36 grams of amphetamines outside of the lawful scope of his medical practice.