St. George doctor gets 8 years in prison for prescribing more than 81,000 pills

Posted at 12:59 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 20:06:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A St. George doctor has been sentenced to serve more than eight years in federal prison for illegally prescribing more than 81,000 oxycodone pills to people.

During a hearing in federal court on Monday, Dr. Simmon Wilcox was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison, plus three years of probation. He was ordered to surrender to U.S. Marshals in August.

"I'm respectful of the court process," Dr. Wilcox told FOX 13 as he left the courthouse on Monday. "I still hold on to my innocence."

Federal prosecutors described the scheme as massive. They accused Dr. Wilcox of writing more than 600 prescriptions between 2011 and 2013 to patients who sometimes used fake IDs. Some of the drugs, prosecutors alleged, hit the streets.

"He was assisting the addictions of many people while holding himself out as someone who can help," said assistant U.S. Attorney Vernon Stejskal.

Dr. Simmon Wilcox (right) leaves federal court surrounded by his lawyers. (Image by Eric Weseman, FOX 13 News)

Dr. Simmon Wilcox (right) leaves federal court surrounded by his lawyers. (Image by Eric Weseman, FOX 13 News)

Dr. Wilcox was convicted by a jury after an eight-day trial in January. Five co-defendants struck plea deals, accusing the doctor of conspiring with them to use his medical license to write prescriptions for oxycodone. One of his alleged co-conspirators created fake IDs to fill the prescriptions at pharmacies.

Brian Frees, Dr. Wilcox's attorney, pointed out that federal prosecutors elected not to charge others who were involved in the alleged conspiracy, something U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart said he found "concerning." Frees also claimed that when undercover federal agents went in trying to obtain prescription pills, Dr. Wilcox turned them away.

Dr. Wilcox told the judge he placed his trust in the wrong people at his southern Utah medical clinic.

"I am remorseful for this entire event," he said at sentencing. "Clearly, I made bad choices for who I allowed to be around me."

Outside of court, the doctor said there was "sloppiness" in allowing others to have access to his prescription pad.

"Those people who had access to my prescription pad have done harm," he said. "But it wasn't harm created by me."

Judge Stewart said it was Dr. Wilcox's ability to write prescriptions that allowed the scheme to happen, declaring that he "knew full well what he was doing."

"He has never expressed concern for those addicted to Oxycontin and he fed their addiction," the judge said, later adding: "He seemed totally blasé about dispensing over 81,000 opiates."

The judge took note of opiate addiction reaching epidemic levels in America, stating that Utah "has been particularly hard hit."

Dr. Wilcox said he intends to appeal his conviction to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.