Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SC doctor, turned drug kingpin, earns 15-year prison sentence

S.C. doctor Mackie Walker, 65, turned drug-dealing kingpin, has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison by a federal judge. Once a respected podiatrist in Aiken, he was sentenced after pleading guilty. Evidence in federal court showed Walker had been the key figure in a major S.C. oxycodone-trafficking ring. He was immediately taken into custody. Doctors have wide discretion to write prescriptions for narcotics. To convict a doctor, prosecutors must show a prescription had no legitimate medical purpose. Walker was motivated by financial gain. He controlled a ring of patients to whom he wrote oxycodone prescriptions, preying "on the vulnerabilities" of his patients.
Walker was arrested in 2016. His arrest followed an almost two-year-long investigation by DEA agents, launched after receiving an informant's tip. At one point, DEA agents equipped a woman with a miniature video camera and sent her to Walker's office to show how he wrote prescriptions for money.
A trafficker who paid Walker $1,000 a prescription could still clear a profit of $2,600 by selling all the pills. Most often, traffickers would take some of the pills themselves and sell the rest. In all, Walker wrote illegal prescriptions for more than 51,000 pills — more than $1 million worth.

Across the US, overdose deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, according to the CDC. They have labeled the prescription abuse an "epidemic."