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Hedrick v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 29, 2019

William Hedrick, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court The Honorable Linda Ralu Wolf, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 18C03-1501-F6-1

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stacy R. Uliana Bargersville, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Samuel J. Dayton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Riley, Judge.


         [¶1] Appellant-Defendant, William Hedrick, M.D., (Hedrick), appeals his conviction for three Counts of forgery, Level 6 felonies, Ind. Code § 35-43-5-2(d), and three Counts of registration offense, Level 6 felonies, I.C. § 35-48-4-14(b)(2)(C).

         [¶2] We affirm.


         [¶3] Hedrick presents four issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as the following three issues:

(1) Whether the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence;
(2) Whether the State presented sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to support Hedrick's convictions; and
(3) Whether the three forgery convictions violate the continuous crime doctrine.


         [¶4] Hedrick is a licensed physician in the state of Indiana. He is also certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine in physical medicine and rehabilitation. In 2008, Hedrick established his own medical practice, where he specialized in pain management, and had several offices, including one in Muncie, Indiana. As his practice grew, Hedrick networked with other doctors. At its peak, Hedrick's practice had 250 employees and sixteen medical providers, including doctors and nurse practitioners.

         [¶5] On February 28, 2013, and March 28, 2013, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board (the Board), held a hearing concerning a disciplinary complaint filed against Hedrick. On April 2, 2013, the Board issued a detailed Order that found three violations of Indiana Code section 25-1-9-4. Specifically, the Board concluded that Hedrick had violated: (1) I.C. § 25-1-9-4(a)(4)(A)(ii) when he failed to keep abreast with current practices when he administered steroid injections beyond what has been deemed medically acceptable; (2) I.C. § 25-1-9-4(a)(4)(B) when he failed to apply current theories of appropriate pain management to the treatment of his patients; and (3) I.C. 25-1-9-4(a)(4)(B) when he failed to adequately supervise his nurses and physician assistants. Because of these violations, the Board placed Hedrick's medical license on indefinite probation, and it established a list of terms and conditions that included monthly reporting, continuing training, and a fine.

         [¶6] A medical practitioner who holds a registration number issued by the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and a Controlled Substance Registration license issued by the state of Indiana, may prescribe "Schedule II through V drugs" to patients. (Transcript Vol. II, p. 204).

         [¶7] In October 2013, Anita Doctor (Doctor), a nurse practitioner, began working at Hedrick's practice. Doctor primarily saw patients for pain management treatment, including "prescribing opioid pain medication." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 206). In mid-November 2013, Doctor witnessed two other nurse practitioners writing prescriptions for patients seen by Hedrick, but whom they had not seen themselves. Before leaving Hedrick's practice in April 2014, Doctor had observed several instances where patients were receiving opioids without going through a substance-abuse screening procedure. She also noted that several patients "receiv[ed] more than 60 morphine equivalents a day," which under Indiana and federal guidelines, requires close monitoring of the patient. (Tr. Vol. II, p. 211). When Doctor attempted to wean those patients from the pain medication by prescribing muscle relaxers or nerve medications, those patients would try to see another nurse practitioner. Doctor also witnessed a nurse practitioner sign a prescription and hand it to Hedrick, who then gave it to a patient. When Doctor inquired about that anomaly, she learned that Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company would not reimburse patients seen or treated by Hedrick. The practice also posted a list of all the insurance companies that would not reimburse Hedrick.

         [¶8] After Doctor left Hedrick's practice, Doctor learned that employees from Hedrick's practice continued to use her name and DEA registration number to prescribe controlled substances. Specifically, on May 1, 2014, someone other than Doctor signed two prescriptions, one for Morphine and one for Percocet; on May 8, 2014, someone other than Doctor signed a prescription for Morphine that listed Doctor's credentials; and on November 26, 2014, someone other than Doctor called in a prescription for Tramadol at Walgreens.

         [¶9] In November 2013, Elisabeth Buchanan (Buchanan), a nurse practitioner, began working at Hedrick's practice. Each week, she operated as a nurse for four days, and for the remaining day, she was the chief operating officer. In December 2013, Buchanan learned that Hedrick's practice was in financial trouble. For instance, Buchanan learned that Fifth Third Bank was considering calling a note due, and that Hedrick had hired a consulting firm to look at the practice's financial books so as to improve the stability of the organization. The consulting firm sent an email to Hedrick's staff stating that the practices of the chief finance officer, Greg Lutz (Lutz), should be lauded since he had renegotiated monthly payments to American Express down to $5, 000 a month from $25, 000. In January 2014, Buchanan indicated to Hedrick that she wanted to resign, but she later changed her mind.

         [¶10] On August 26, 2014, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Buchanan sent an email to Hedrick and a few other staff members, expressing concern that other people were using her "DEA# . . . for numerous prescriptions [] both scheduled and unscheduled," drugs that she had not specifically prescribed. (State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 175). Buchanan also raised a concern that one patient who had a history of mental illness and whom she had seen on June 14, 2014, had thereafter been seen by two other nurses in a span of five weeks and had been prescribed a total of "330 oxycodone." (State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 176). When Buchanan received no response to her email, at around 10:00 a.m., she wrote to the entire clinical staff and stated

I just wanted to take a moment and ask that everyone PLEASE check the prescription for which you are signing and make sure they are yours.
I have had over [fifteen] patients alone in the last week that were not or have ever been seen by me or prescribed medications by me; however, they are ending up on INSPECT[1] or in the computer that I have prescribed medications to them. Some have shown [two] providers have wrote [sic] scripts on the same day. I am not sure if it is a computer issue or what; but if you could please double check as you sign them, or they are printed it would be appreciated.

(State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 177). When Hedrick did finally respond to Buchanan's emails, he told her that the situation was due to a flaw with the INSPECT program. The following day, Buchanan resigned. On September 9, 2014, which was after Buchanan left Hedrick's practice, someone other than Buchanan signed a prescription for Percocet that listed Buchanan's name and Buchanan's DEA registration number. Buchanan was in Texas on that date.

         [¶11] In the Fall of 2014, Hedrick was the target of a criminal investigation by the DEA after local pharmacies in Muncie reported Hedrick's practice. Specifically, the pharmacies informed the DEA that the total volume of "controlled substance prescriptions being prescribed out of [Hedrick's] . . . medical practice" was alarming. (Tr. Vol. II, p. 128). The pharmacies indicated that Hedrick's clinic was prescribing "dangerous combinations of controlled substances," i.e., "narcotics . . . with anti-depressant." (Tr. Vol. II, p. 128). Some other pharmacies had altogether stopped filling prescriptions from Hedrick and his practice. Following those complaints, the DEA conducted surveillance of Hedrick's practice in Muncie in August and October of 2014.

         [¶12] On September 2, 2014, Hedrick's chief financial officer, Lutz, sent a message to Hedrick stating, "To make payroll, I will need 60k. To pay all critical vendors I will need additional 20k." (State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 186). Over a series of several texts, Hedrick wrote back stating, "Wow! . . . Need to do some extreme stuff to stop this . . . Need to meet with you tomorrow night . . . Have to stop the hemorrhaging now . . . Can't spend more than we have . . . We have a crisis." (State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 186). The following day, Lutz and Hedrick exchanged several text messages, and Hedrick angrily wrote back,

This isn[']t about you. This is about survival of the company and vital nature of cash flow. Several heads are better than one. We might have to renegotiate payment plans. Might have to stop paying American [E]xpress. Might try breaking up payments to others. Can [sic] afford to pay that much in one week. May have to not pay lawyers.

(State's Exh. Vol. II, p. 187).

         [¶13] That same month, the DEA interviewed three nurse practitioners from Hedrick's practice. They included Gay Watson (Watson), Susan Adam-Hayes (Adam-Hayes), and Sarah Nevil (Nevil). The nurses thereafter surrendered their respective DEA registration numbers. Despite the fact that Watson had surrendered her DEA registration number, Hedrick used it to issue the following prescriptions: (1) on October 2, 2014, two prescriptions, one for 120 ...

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