A long-practicing psychiatrist in the Denver area is facing federal charges for allegedly prescribing high doses of opioids and other controlled substances through his cash-based medical practice even after learning patients weren’t using the drugs as prescribed.
A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Howard Weiss, who has practiced in Greenwood Village since 2003, on 120 charges connected to his prescriptions and finances, according to the indictment that was unsealed last week.
The document alleges Weiss prescribed pills — including amphetamines like Adderall and benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium — to patients without trying lower doses or alternative solutions first, prosecutors alleged.
“Between approximately August 2013 and June 2019, the defendant, Howard Weiss, distributed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate purpose,” federal prosecutors wrote in the indictment.
He also prescribed addictive substances to people with substance-use disorders, even after drug testing showed they were using drugs outside of those prescribed them or using the prescription pills in amounts higher than prescribed, the indictment states.
At least one of Weiss’ patients died of an overdose, according to the indictment. The indictment does not provide more details about the death and Weiss is not charged with any crimes connected directly with a fatality.
“Weiss prescribed high doses of benzodiazepines to individuals who were also taking opioids or who were being treated for opioid abuse,” the indictment alleges. “He did this despite the fact that those substances in combination put those individuals at greater risk for potentially fatal overdoses.”
Weiss appeared in Colorado’s U.S. District Court on Friday after his arrest. He entered a plea of not guilty, according to online court records. He later posted a $100,000 bond.
Weiss’ attorney did not respond to emails seeking comment. A man who answered the phone number listed for Weiss’ psychiatry practice said it was a wrong number.
Weiss is charged in connection to prescriptions he gave to 16 patients, who are identified in the indictment only by their initials. In one three-month period, one patient was prescribed 9,000 Adderall pills, 480 pills of the muscle relaxant Soma, and 480 Xanax tablets, the indictment states.
Weiss also regularly failed to check the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing medications, according to the indictment. The program shows whether a patient has similar prescriptions with multiple doctors.
Weiss was granted a Colorado medical license in 2003 even though his Virginia medical license had been suspended in 1995 for a conviction on a federal mail fraud charge involving fraudulent billing, according to documents maintained by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Weiss was sentenced to three years probation for the fraud charge and ordered to pay more than $35,000 in restitution to Medicare and two insurance companies.
The Colorado Medical Board suspended Weiss’ medical license on Nov. 27, 2019, after an investigation into his prescription practices, board documents show.
“The Panel reviewed information that (Weiss’) care and treatment of multiple patients fell below generally accepted standards of medical practice,” an investigative panel for the medical board found. “Specifically, (Weiss) simultaneously prescribed multiple controlled substances in high doses to multiple patients, with minimal documentation of his patient encounters.”
Federal authorities are also seeking forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars Weiss made through his Colorado practice, according to the indictment.
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