Federal Jury Convicts Area Doctor on 98 Charges

Panama City Dr. Thomas G. Merrill, who practiced in Apalachicola, has been convicted in federal court on charges of wire fraud, health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances.

Merrill was accused of prescribing large amounts of controlled drugs to “doctor shopping” patients, five of whom died from overdoses of the medications.

A federal grand jury charged that Merrill, a licensed osteopathic physician formerly practicing at Magnolia Medical Clinic in Apalachicola, prescribed controlled substances to patients without performing a physical examination and without determining a sufficient medical necessity to prescribe the drugs.

Many of Merrill’s patients appeared to be “doctor shopping” to support their drug habits.

Other charges included prescribing excessive and inappropriate quantities of controlled substances, failing to monitor the use and abuse of the prescribed controlled substances by patients, and prescribing controlled substances to patients knowing that the patients were addicted to or misusing the controlled substances and wanted additional quantities for their drug habit.

Merrill was convicted of 98 counts of dispensing or distributing controlled substances, defrauding health care benefit programs and wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as fines and restitution to health care benefit programs to be determined by the court.