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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Montana Psychiatrist Sentenced for Unlawful Possession of an Opioid
Helena—A Montana psychiatrist who admitted to unlawfully prescribing and abusing an opioid was sentenced today to five years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $4,000, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said. In addition, as part of his sentence the psychiatrist cannot prescribe any controlled substance during his five years of probation.

Richard E. Mitchell, 35, pleaded guilty in March to unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon presided.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Mitchell is a physician who was previously employed as a psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center at Fort Harrison near Helena. On April 24, 2019, Mitchell wrote a prescription for Norco, which contains the opioid Hydrocodone and is a controlled substance, for a woman who was not a patient of the VA Medical Center. Mitchell was with the woman at the pharmacy when she filled the prescription, where the pharmacist recognized Mitchell and noted his unusual behavior. After obtaining the prescription, Mitchell and the woman later crushed some of the opioid pills and snorted them.

Law enforcement was notified by the pharmacist who filled the opioid prescription of Mitchell’s erratic behavior while at the pharmacy. When questioned by law enforcement, Mitchell admitted that he was in a romantic relationship with the woman and that they had crushed and snorted some pills containing Hydrocodone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Kakuk and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Dishong prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration.