WELLSVILLE — A Wellsville physician, who last year surrendered his license to prescribe narcotics amid a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation, is now facing criminal charges in the matter.
Dr. Reed Haag Jr., 56, of Wellsville, was charged Tuesday with 15 counts of New York State Public Health Law section 3304, unclassified misdemeanors related to prescribing controlled substances in an unlawful manner.
According to the Wellsville Police Department, Haag is accused of allowing his staff member to write narcotic prescriptions to patients on his behalf.
“(The staff member) had the password to the DEA website and was able to prescribe narcotics using a password that only Dr. Haag should have had,” said Wellsville Police Lt. Josh Kear on Thursday. “I’m assuming it was at his direction, but nonetheless it wasn’t supposed to happen.”
The charges are part of a two-year investigation by Wellsville police and New York State Police investigators assigned to the DEA Task Force, which last year saw Haag’s Wellsville office raided and Haag surrender his DEA registration number, which allows physicians to legally prescribe controlled substances.
Haag, who was arraigned in Wellsville Village Court Tuesday and released to await further court action, declined to comment at the advice of his attorney, but noted he would “recommend no one jump to conclusions until the case is closed.”
“I don’t make a diagnosis until I’ve reviewed all the labs I have obtained. I would probably recommend the same to you,” he told the Olean Times Herald Thursday.
However, Haag explained the accusations against him to the Times Herald in June 2018 shortly after the raid of his office and loss of his DEA registration number.
Hagg, who at the time was also operating an opiate treatment center in the Carrollton Town Municipal Complex in Limestone, told the Times Herald the issue stemmed from splitting his time between Limestone and Wellsville.
He said he did not have access to a computer when working once a week in the Limestone center, so he would “call the nursing manager (at the Wellsville office) and she would electronically (process) the prescription. … The DEA found out I was in one place, but the prescriptions were coming from another and they said that was a no-no.”
“There are so many physicians who have lost their licenses for stupid reasons, like diverting drugs to other people or taking drugs themselves,” he said in June 2018. “The only thing I did was I didn’t have access to a computer, so I called my nurse (in Wellsville) to take care of the prescriptions.”
Edward Orgon, resident agent in charge with the DEA in Buffalo, confirmed Thursday that Haag’s DEA registration number is still suspended, meaning he cannot prescribe controlled substances like OxyContin and Valium.
He added Haag has applied to get his DEA registration number back, but the matter is pending and will be decided by DEA headquarters.
Orgon noted Haag still has his New York state physician’s license, meaning he can continue to see patients. He said any decision on Hagg’s physcian’s license would be made by the state.
New York has an Office of Professional Medical Conduct that investigations any complaints and determines discipline against physicians who are subject to Orders of the State Board for Professional Medical Conduct.
Haag operates his Wellsville office at 238 N. Main St. He said Thursday he no longer operates his Limestone opiate treatment center, but declined to answer any further questions about it.
A call to the Carrollton Town Municipal Complex, where Haag ran the center, was not immediately returned Thursday.
Haag opened the center in 2017, previously telling the Times Herald he did so to help cut down the distance opioid-addicted patients have to travel for treatment.
Kear said the investigation into Hagg started approximately two years ago when Wellsville police received a complaint about Hagg’s prescription practices.
“When we started to investigate it, it was clear it was going to take more than our resources here so we got the DEA Task Force involved,” he said.
It took two years — and just over a year since the May 31, 2018, raid of Haag’s office — to bring charges because investigators needed to “track down witnesses and … pull records and put everything together,” Kear explained.
The police lieutenant noted there was no proof Haag was prescribing narcotics to himself or people who didn’t need them — the charges are simply due to how Haag went about prescribing narcotics. He added he does not expect any further charges.
Asked why Haag’s Wellsville nursing manager, who was allegedly processing the prescriptions on Haag’s behalf, is not facing charges, Kear said, “My understanding is it’s his responsibility — because it’s his license — to make sure the prescriptions are prescribed in the proper manner.”