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Doctor gets two years in pain pill case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Cabell County doctor will spend at least two years in federal prison for doling out thousands of pain pills, causing at least one of her patients to get into a car accident that killed a woman and two teens.

Anita Dawson, 55, of Milton, pleaded guilty last year to federal drug control charges, admitting to doling out thousands of prescription pain pills to patients who did not need them. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers sentenced her to two years in prison, four times the maximum recommended under federal sentencing guidelines.

Dawson admitted that from July 2006 to May 2009 she wrote prescription pain medication to a person identified in court filings as "E.B.," who is believed to be Erma Brown.

In April 2009, Brown was high on painkillers when she caused a car accident that killed Carole Crawford, 47, her daughter Meaghan, 16, and Kelsie Kuhn, 16, all of Barboursville. Brown is serving a 30-year prison sentence on charges of driving under the influence of prescription painkillers.

Family members of the victims attended Monday's sentencing hearing in Huntington, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. The judge noted that nine more of Dawson's patients died of prescription drug overdoses.

"It's hard to put into words the devastating impact of this defendant's crimes," Goodwin said. "My heart goes out to the families who spoke at today's hearing and to everyone who lost a loved one because of Dr. Dawson."

Dawson illegally prescribed nearly 6,000 pills containing oxycodone and more than 220 pills for the painkiller Percocet. She knew that the patient was addicted to the pain meds and needed the drug for other "inappropriate reasons," the release states.

 The West Virginia Board of Osteopathy suspended Dawson's medical license in April 2010. On the same day, federal and state investigators raided her office in Milton. She has since voluntarily surrendered her license.

"The vast majority of physicians prescribe responsibly," Goodwin said. "But even a handful of bad doctors can flood our communities with illegal pills. Every time we put a law breaking doctor out of business, it's a big step toward getting the problem under control."

Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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