Arlington Doctor Sentenced to 12 Years in Pill Mill Case
DALLAS, TX- An Arlington physician has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for fraud and drug crimes, announced DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez.
In July 2021, a federal jury convicted physician Clinton Battle, 69, of one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of distribution of a controlled substance. In a separate proceeding later that month, the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, who also ordered him to pay $376,368 in restitution.
According to evidence presented at trial, Dr. Battle routinely issued prescriptions for controlled substances – including hydrocodone, alprazolam, acetaminophen with codeine, tramadol, and phentermine – outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. At times, he issued prescriptions for controlled substances without conducting any medical examination at all, sometimes telling office staff to issue prescriptions for whichever controlled substance the patient wanted. He also issued prescriptions for friends or family members with whom he had no physician-patient relationship.
At trial, one of Dr. Battle’s former employees testified that she, her husband, and Dr. Battle agreed that Dr. Battle would provide the employee’s husband with illegal controlled substance prescriptions in exchange for cocaine.
In addition to cocaine, the evidence also showed that Dr. Battle would receive money in the form of fees paid by “patients” of $200 for an initial visit and $80 for return visits in exchange for controlled substance prescriptions.
Dr. Battle also allowed his nurse practitioner, coconspirator Donna Green, to use his DEA registration number and medical credentials to issue prescriptions for controlled substances, despite knowing that Ms. Green was not legally authorized to issue such prescriptions. (On the morning trial was set to begin, Ms. Green pled guilty to one count of acquiring a controlled substance through fraud.)
Throughout the course of the five-year conspiracy, Dr. Battle issued more than 50,000 controlled substance prescriptions, 17,000 of which were for the powerful opioid hydrocodone.
“Dealers of illegal drugs come in many forms. This is a case of the abuse of trust and position,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez. “Dr. Battle and his co-conspirators used their authority to push pills into our neighborhoods disregarding the inherent harm they cause. DEA’s teamwork with our federal and local area law enforcement agencies make it possible to pursue any person distributing illegal drugs, no matter the disguise.”
Dr. Battle also defrauded worker’s compensation and health insurers by conspiring to submit claims for functional capacity evaluations (FCEs) that he claimed he himself administered over the course of several hours, according to his plea papers. In reality, his unlicensed assistants administered the evaluations, which took significantly less time than he claimed. In addition, Dr. Battle billed for physical therapy sessions that were conducted by unlicensed assistants or, at times, not conducted at all. He and his coconspirators also “upcoded” by billing for higher reimbursement levels than were authorized for the level of examination they performed.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, IRS – Criminal Investigations, and the Texas Department of Insurance conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Weybrecht and Jay Weimer are prosecuting the case with the help of their appellate liaison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton.