A federal judge has ordered a Tulsa doctor to pay nearly $300,000 in fines related to 430 controlled-drug law violations while medical director at a spa.
U.S. District Judge John Dowdell, in an opinion and order issued Sunday, ordered Dr. Darnell E. Blackmon to pay civil fines totaling $296,000 following a nonjury trial held Oct. 26 in Tulsa federal court.
Blackmon had asked the judge to impose no monetary penalty, citing a range of factors that include his assertion that he didn’t willingly violate federal drug laws or profit financially.
Dowdell determined that a “significant” monetary penalty was appropriate.
A civil complaint filed March 4, 2016, by prosecutors on behalf of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency alleged that Blackmon, who is an orthopedic surgeon, violated federal drug laws while he was medical director for the Enhanced Skin & Body Medical Spa, 6616 S. Memorial Drive, from 2011 to 2014.
Blackmon later admitted to seven of the eight counts alleged by prosecutors.
His admissions included failing to keep proper records related to the dispensing of testosterone and the diet drug phentermine. He also admitted to allowing nurses at the spa to prescribe and/or administer testosterone and phentermine in his absence. Blackmon also admitted to prescribing and administering testosterone to himself on three occasions in 2013 as well as failing to obtain a DEA registration necessary to dispense such drugs at the spa.
Blackmon could have faced monetary penalties totaling $9.88 million, and prosecutors had asked that he be fined a total of $441,500.
Testimony at the bench trial indicated that Blackmon invested $25,000 in the spa but received only a $500 monthly fee under his agreement with the spa owner, according to Dowdell’s order.
One issue in the trial was whether Blackmon knew that spa personnel were using a stamp with his signature and DEA number to order phentermine and testosterone. Blackmon maintained that he had not authorized the making of the stamp or its use at the spa, Dowdell’s opinion states.
However, the judge said he gave greater credibility to testimony from the spa owner, who said Blackmon provided the signature stamp to the spa.
The judge also noted that no evidence was presented of any significant adverse outcome to the public as a result of the spa’s services related to testosterone or phentermine.
He determined that Blackmon should pay $250 for each of the 58 record-keeping violations; $750 for each of the 368 violations for permitting two nurses to examine, prescribe and administer testosterone and phentermine to patients without his having established a doctor-patient relationship; $1,000 for each of the three occasions he prescribed testosterone to himself; and $2,500 for failing to obtain a separate DEA registration for the dispensing activities at the spa.
The Oklahoma Medical Licensure and Supervision Board imposed a 20-day suspension and $50,000 fine against Blackmon in 2015 as part of its investigation of his involvement in the spa’s medical procedures. Blackmon also paid $12,000 to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.
An attorney for Blackmon declined to comment on the ruling because the litigation is pending.