by Jen Kastner
ODESSA- The Odessa doctor charged in connection to a meth and painkiller distribution ring is packing up his practice. The Texas Medical Board issued a temporary suspension of his medical license while his criminal accusations are being investigated.
Dr. Barrett Doyle Whitefield operated a general practice and family medicine clinic at 6110 Eastridge in Odessa. On Monday, a "for lease" sign was already displayed next to the front office doors.
The Texas Medical Board tells NewsWest 9, the license suspension was issued last Friday.
"It's a special legal process that takes place when the board has reason to believe that this individual poses a real, continuing threat to public health and welfare," board spokesperson, Leigh Hopper, said.
Dr. Whitefield and seven others were indicted in late November for conspiring to intentionally distribute methamphetamine and hydrocodone painkillers. He will need to seize his practice while the criminal charge is still pending.
An an affidavit to search his office was just unsealed on Monday. Within it, the Drug Enforcement Administration details why the Midland Police Department opened up a case in the first place.
The DEA reports that Christina Barfield, also listed in the indictment with Dr. Whitefield and six others, was employed at the doctor's practice before an investigation began. According to the documents, she and Dr. Whitefield were working together, providing controlled substances through fraudulent prescriptions to others who were illegally distributing them.
The reports explains that MPD started off its operation by using sources to buy prescription drugs from Barfield, mostly hydrocodone and alprazolam, a painkiller and an anxiety medication. They were all prescribed by Dr. Whitefield, and often contained fraudulent addresses and dates of birth.
The affidavit details how Barfield was later arrested and confessed her involvement in the illegal distribution ring. In the process, she exposed her co-conspirator, Dr. Whitefield, for keeping records of fictitious patients and paying her to send people to him as alleged patients to get prescriptions.
The documents go on to show how she later cooperated with the department's investigation by jumping in on a sting operation which later revealed that Dr. Whitefield would take a few hundred dollars in exchange for a prescription written out for a fictitious person.
At this time, it is still unknown to us why methamphetamine distribution was written into the charge.
How common is it for Texas doctors to get indicted for similar charges?
"Well, the methamphetamine part is pretty unusual. I've not seen that, but, unfortunately, the painkiller-type drugs [are] very, very common. It's sad to say," Hopper said.
Dr. Whitefield has an arraignment set for this Tuesday at the Midland federal courthouse. Christina Barfield and the six others included in the ring have various hearings scheduled over the next few weeks.