Georgia took a chance on an ex-con doctor, agreeing to give him back a medical license in 2013 despite his felony conviction record. That was all Fred Gilliard needed for his latest -- and potentially last -- criminal scheme.
This week, the 76-year-old pleaded guilty to distributing prescriptions for the opioid oxycodone. Prosecutors said the drug was then sold by a group called Irish Travelers in Aiken County, South Carolina. Gilliard also pressured female patients for sex in exchange for prescriptions, according to The State, a South Carolina newspaper.
The conviction is his third on federal charges.
In 1983, he was arrested on federal drug charges after being taped giving an undercover informant the narcotic Dilaudid through phony prescriptions, the Savannah Morning News reported. He served five years of a 15-year sentenced on that charge, news reports show.
Then in 1996, a federal jury convicted him of felony offenses of submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid when he was CEO of Augusta-based Penn-Teck Diagnostics, a medical lab. The jury also found him guilty of obstruction of justice by influencing a witness to making false statements and lying to a grand jury, federal court records show.
For those crimes, Gilliard was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and ordered to pay almost $220,000 in restitution.
When Gilliard got out of prison on those convictions and finished criminal probation, he applied to the Georgia Composite Medical Board to get his license back. It had lapsed in 1985, when he was serving time after his first felony convictions.
Citing his long prison sentence, the board required him to take a clinical skills exam, which noted "significant deficits" in his medical knowledge. It also noted that if he intended to practice pain management, he should take a structured and accredited pain management training program.
There's no indication in board records that he took that program. But he did take a refresher class on clinical skills, so the board agreed in October 2013 to license him, if he practiced under the direct supervision of another physician for at least six months.
In April 2014, the board lifted the restrictions on his license. After that, he practiced without supervision in the Evans, Georgia area, specializing in addiction therapy.
He still has an active Georgia medical license despite his arrest late last year.
According to the plea agreement for his latest crimes, Gilliard could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. A sentencing date has not been set.
Read more about how physicians have fueled the opioid crisis: http://www.myajc.com/news/public-affairs/healers-dealers/wrKUc6J0p2sz4dFi3fwXJK/