News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 28, 2013

Doctor guilty in drug case to move to nursing home


Associated Press

---- — GREENCASTLE, Ind. — A Putnam County doctor who pleaded guilty last year to illegally dispensing narcotics in exchange for sexual favors will spend the remainder of his sentence in a nursing home because he has dementia.

Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley originally sentenced Ray D. Howell, 58, to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction, followed by another two years on probation.

Howell has been housed since March at a state prison in New Castle. All of his time has been spent in the infirmary because of the dementia, the Banner Graphic reported.

Medical officials submitted a report noting that Howell can’t read or write, is completely dependent on others for day-to-day living and takes Alzheimer’s medications.

Headley approved the request from Howell’s family and attorney on condition that Howell remain in a nursing home for the duration of his sentence, saying his medical issues are a “much greater life sentence” than any a court could impose. He has about a year left to serve.

“The remainder of the executed portion must be at the facility, and not simply at home,” the judge said in his ruling. “Failure to stay at the nursing home facility shall be treated as a violation of probation.”

Howell’s family plans to pay the nursing home fees.

Howell was arrested Oct. 18, 2011, after a two-year investigation by local, state and federal authorities. Investigators said he administered unnecessary treatments and prescriptions, many of which were linked to sexual encounters with female patients at the Roachdale clinic he operated for more than 20 years.

He initially faced 15 felony counts before reaching a plea agreement that dismissed five of those.