Former Sherman pain doctor Howard Gregg Diamond was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison on conspiracy with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance charges and 10 years on health care fraud aiding and abetting charges.
He must also serve five years supervised release after that.
According to court documents, Federal District Judge Marcia Crone recommended mental health treatment for Diamond while incarcerated. She also recommended drug treatment while incarcerated and recommended he be imprisoned in Fort Worth.
After the sentencing, which took place by video in Plano, the government dismissed all of the remaining counts against Diamond.
Diamond pleaded guilty back in October to the drug distribution and fraud charges amid allegations that he needlessly prescribed powerful painkillers over a span of a least seven years, leading to the overdose death of one person in 2015.
“According to information presented in court, beginning in 2010, Diamond wrote prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxymorphone, methadone, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, and zolpidem, from his pain management medical offices in Sherman and Paris, Texas without a legitimate medical purpose,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Joe Brown said in a statement released by his office Thursday.
The statement said on July 15, 2014, Diamond distributed or dispensed morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam and zolpidem to an individual that resulted in that individual’s death on July 25, 2014. In addition to the death of that patient, Crone received information that six other overdose deaths were connected to prescriptions written by Diamond between 2010 and 2017. The health care fraud conviction resulted from Diamond submitting a claim for reimbursement to Medicare claiming he treated a Medicare patient on Sep. 29, 2015, although he was in another state at that time. Diamond was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 6, 2017.
“This is the type of behavior that has resulted in the opioid crisis in this country,” Brown said. “The number of pills Dr. Diamond was prescribing was shocking. When doctors care more about the money they are making than anything else, people can die, and in his case, they did. The severity of the sentences for these doctors is the kind we see for dealers of large amounts of street drugs. And really, that is what these doctors became — just drug dealers.”
FBI Dallas Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said the plea and sentencing of Diamond underscores the doctor’s “threat.”
“Diamond leveraged his medical privilege and blatantly violated the doctor’s oath for personal financial gain at the expense of his patients,” Schneider said in a prepared statement. “The FBI has made it a priority to proactively identify and bring others like him to justice who willingly engage in criminal activity, specifically over prescribing opioids to the detriment of patients they promised to help and not harm. Diamond was prosecuted because of great law enforcement partnerships that are investigating opiate abuse in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.”
The case against Diamond was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Sherman Police Department, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Rattan and Maureen Smith prosecuted the case.
Diamond was represented in the case by Peter Schulte who could not immediately be reached Thursday afternoon for a comment.
Jerrie Whiteley is the criminal justice editor for the Herald Democrat. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @jlwhiteley.