Physician gets 4 years on federal drug conviction

John Diedrich

Oct. 12, 2010

A New Berlin physician convicted on 16 counts of dispensing powerful painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose has been sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Roger A. Pellmann, who ran the Center for Medical Imaging and Vein and Laser Skin Care Clinics in Germantown, was convicted by a jury of illegally dispensing fentanyl and morphine to a nurse who worked for his clinics in 2009.

Besides prison, Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert sentenced Pellmann on Tuesday to three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison and a $2,000 fine. Pellmann has been behind bars since August, when Clevert learned he had contact with his former nurse while awaiting sentencing, contrary to the judge's order.

Pellmann, 56, faced 41 to 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Pellmann's attorney, Adam Essling, suggested just probation or house arrest, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Jacobs recommended prison time within the guidelines.

"Licensed professionals are not free to hand out drugs or they become common drug dealers, and that is what happened here," Jacobs said. "There are severe consequences for such actions."

According to the criminal complaint, Pellmann told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents that he had been treating the registered nurse for pain related to a broken tooth. Pellmann said he eventually gave the nurse about 100 milliliters of fentanyl a day. He admitted the treatment was outside the usual course of practice, his office kept no patient file for the nurse and she was not billed for the drugs.

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