Curtis Gets One Year In Jail for Selling Pills in Belmont County

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Dr. Rodney Lee Curtis will serve six months in jail, six months at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center and be subject to five years of community controls for his conviction on charges of trafficking in drugs and possession of drugs.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Dr. Rodney Lee Curtis will serve a total of one year of incarceration, having been convicted of three counts of trafficking in drugs and two counts of possession of drugs.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato imposed a sentence of five years of community controls when Curtis appeared Thursday in court. Curtis also will serve six months in jail and six months at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center, with the EOCC period to focus on rehabilitation. A violation of the terms of his controls will result in one and a half years in prison.

Curtis, 64, is a urologist from St. Clairsville. During his trial over the past two weeks, he was found guilty of conducting drug transactions involving Adderall and Suboxone with a confidential informant who was recording the interactions last April. The informant was a former employee of Curtis, who previously was involved in a romantic relationship with the doctor. She became an informant while being investigated for writing false prescriptions on a pad belonging to Curtis. A search of Curtis’ residence also yielded Adderall and Suboxone. He was convicted of four felonies and one misdemeanor.

Fregiato said he took into account Curtis’ largely law-abiding life, adding that the doctor had no prior record.

“We’ve got four felonies and one misdemeanor. The crisis of the opiate situation, the causes are multi-faceted. There’s many causes for them. One of the causes, certainly not all of the causes, is the role of the medical establishment has been playing in this issue. What we’ve got today is not over-prescribing, though that would be bad enough. What we’ve got is a doctor guilty, after a full trial, of felonies entitled trafficking. That obviously can’t go on,” Fregiato said.

“Balancing all of the factors and trying to be absolutely fair to this individual, not being lighter on him because he is a doctor but at the same time not being harsher on him because he is a doctor, this individual will spend time in jail and in incarceration but not in prison,” Fregiato said. “There are multiple causes for the opioid crisis. This is only one, and it cannot and it will not be ignored by this court.”

“My office is very pleased with the outcome of the jury trial for which a conviction was earned on all charges of drug possession and trafficking against Dr. Curtis,” Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry said. “My office and the investigators worked very hard to make sure that the sale of drugs by this physician be stopped and that he received felony charges in return.”

Fry said the crimes constitute a violation of trust.

“We saw Dr. Curtis as someone who held a position of trust in the community and that he absolutely violated that trust,” Fry said, adding that physicians in the community do wonderful work, which should not be overshadowed by illegal acts of one member of that group. “The position that Dr. Curtis held makes this the most disturbing type of drug offense. He, of all people, knows what drugs do to our community and what it will do to a drug-addicted person. Instead, he continued to illegally sell and give drugs to an addicted person.”

According to Tessie Pollock, director of communications with the State Medical Board of Ohio, there is currently no formal action related to Curtis’ medical license. She noted, though, that issues such as a felony or misdemeanor conviction and questions about moral turpitude are grounds for discipline by the State Medical Board of Ohio.

“If the courts find someone guilty, then we can bring an action based on that conviction,” Pollock said.

Fry said his office will be sending the Ohio Medical Board any information the board will need to take action against Curtis’license.

“We believe that these convictions should preclude Dr. Curtis from ever being able to practice medicine,” Fry said. “That trust has been broken in the worst way possible. I do not believe that he should ever again have the trust of the community to practice medicine.”