DETROIT, MI — A Michigan medical doctor has been convicted of health care fraud for her role in selling pre-signed medical marijuana recommendations to patients she had never seen.
Following a four-day trial, a jury convicted Lois Butler-Jackson, 52, Friday of health care fraud and “conspiracy to commit (an) offense or legal act in (an) illegal manner.”
Under Michigan‘s medical marijuana law, doctors must complete a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and maintain a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship. A certificate signed the physician is then provided to the State as part of the patient’s formal application to the program.
According to prosecutors, Butler-Jackson blindly approved hundreds of medical marijuana certificates, which were then sold for cash by business partner Brian Deloose out of the back of his Warren, MI, appliance store, which was dubbed the “Safe Access Clinic.”
Prosecutors said that Butler-Jackson sold the signed certificates for $100 Deloose, who then resold them for $250 as part of a “medical marijuana packet”.
When prospective medical marijuana patients approached Deloose, he allegedly filled out the application forms and then instructed applicants to mail the forms and certificates pre-signed by Butler-Jackson to the Bureau of Health Professions.
Deloose would then instruct the patients to return 20 days later to purchase marijuana. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act provides that if an applicant sends in a complete application that is not processed within 20 days, then a copy of the application will act as a valid medical marijuana registration card.
During the course of the investigation, undercover detectives were able to purchase completed packets with certificates signed by Butler-Jackson without ever meeting her in person or obtaining her review of their medical records.
Those same officers would then return with the original applications 20 days later to purchase marijuana from Deloose’s appliance store.
In December 2010, local police executed search warrants and recovered blank, pre-signed Physician Certification forms as well as copies of 312 completed Medical Marijuana Physician Certification forms with Butler-Jackson’s certifying signature.
“We looked at this as a scam and fraud that was taking advantage of the Medical Marijuana Act that voters passed,” said prosecutor William Dailey. “We relied on this doctor to make a professional assessment. She abused her power and authority for money.”
It is estimated that Butler-Jackson made between $20,000 and $30,000 in profits from the certificate sales.
Butler-Jackson’s license to practice medicine in Michigan was suspended in May 2011, as part of the investigation.