State licensing agency files complaint against nurse practitioner
DANVILLE — More charges may be coming in the case against a Danville family nurse practitioner charged earlier this week with prescribing medications he wasn't licensed to and signing prescriptions with another medical professional's name.
In addition to the criminal charges filed Tuesday against Michael C. Wagner, 45, he now faces a complaint from the state agency that issues his registered nursing and advanced practice nursing licenses.
Wagner, who has bonded out of jail, spent Thursday at Central Illinois Family Practice, his Danville medical office on 603 N. Logan Ave. He was not available for comment and referred The News-Gazette to his attorney, Brian King of Champaign.
In a written statement, King said the charges are the result of a "reckless" witch hunt. He said Wagner has been licensed to prescribe certain controlled substances for several years and continues to have an active, valid license to do so.
"Mike implements numerous safeguards when prescribing such substances, and keeps careful records of each and every one," King wrote.
Sgt. Lisa Mitchell of the Vermilion Metropolitan Enforcement Group said her agency and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Wagner about two years ago after receiving a tip that he was writing prescriptions incorrectly. Another person told the agencies that Wagner was writing prescriptions in exchange for money, she added.
But the charges filed against Wagner in Vermilion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, following his arrest earlier that same day, involve other allegations.
He faces one count of forgery and one count of unlawful acquisition of a controlled substance. Both are felonies.
Mitchell said those charges stem from evidence showing that in 2012 Wagner prescribed medication he did not have a license for and that he signed the name of another medical professional on prescriptions.
That matches allegations in a complaint filed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which conducted its own investigation into the practice of Wagner.
That complaint, filed Wednesday, states that in August 2012 Wagner forged a prescription for Adderall, using the name of Dr. Dennis Silver without Silver's authorization. And on Aug. 28, 2012, the complaint states, Wagner forged a letter using Silver's name that authorized him to write prescriptions for the drugs Focalin, Concerta, Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse.
The complaint also includes allegations of a different nature against Wagner.
It states that Wagner was named by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a perpetrator in an employment-related report of child abuse that involved cuts, welts and bruises to two minors. The document provides no other details of the alleged abuse.
King said the allegations against his client center around Wagner's authority to prescribe certain medications under the supervision of his collaborative physician. He said Wagner was given the authority to write the prescriptions.
"As a result of this reckless 'investigation' several pharmacies in the Danville area are refusing to fill patients' prescriptions that come from Mike's practice," King wrote. "This has already caused unnecessary hardship to many of his patients, who are clearly in need. We are working with those pharmacies to resolve this and to avoid any additional hardship to his patients. In the meantime, we would ask that every one remember that Mike will have his day in court for this and that until then he is presumed innocent of these allegations."
When Wagner was arrested on Tuesday, Mitchell said, the agencies brought a search warrant allowing them to seize his records. The agencies are continuing their investigation using those records and have more people to interview, she added. More charges could be brought against Wagner as a result, Mitchell said.
At issue in the criminal charges are prescriptions Wagner wrote for Schedule II drugs. His attorney said Wagner has been licensed to do so "for several years and continues to have an active, valid license." Mitchell said investigators learned Wagner was writing such prescriptions in 2012 — before he was legally licensed to do so.
Sue Hofer, spokeswoman with the state department of financial and professional regulation, said advanced practice nurses can prescribe certain drugs based on the agreement they have with the doctor under whose supervision they work. An advanced practice nurse would need a separate controlled substance license from the state to prescribe Schedule II drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, and would be subject to certain limitations in prescribing them that a physician would not. An advanced practice nurse also would have to be registered with the DEA to prescribe such medications.
Hofer said her department's independent investigation is complete, and the filing of a complaint means that investigators believe there is enough evidence to show that the accused violated the professional act under which he is licensed.
"These are the counts of what we believe we can demonstrate if this were to go to formal hearing," Hofer said.
The department issued Wagner an advanced practice nursing license in 2001 and a registered nursing license in 1997. The four-count complaint states that the allegations are grounds for revocation or suspension of those licenses, as well as grounds for fines not to exceed $10,000 per violation.