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October 15, 2009 - Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Illegally Prescribing Painkillers: Judge gives him seven years in prison; two civil lawsuits are pending.

A Layton, Utah, doctor was sentenced Wednesday to 85 months in prison for illegally prescribing painkillers.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ordered the seven-year sentence for Paul Ray Taylor, 64. Taylor will receive credit for time already served, about 19 months.

Waddoups also ordered Taylor to pay a $2,000 fine. Taylor will remain on home arrest until Jan. 11, 2010, when he will surrender and begin his prison term.

A federal grand jury indicted Taylor on two counts of illegally distributing a controlled substance for five months beginning in June 2007, when he was forced out of a family practice clinic. In January, he pleaded guilty to one count of distributing oxycodone. He admitted providing prescriptions "to various individuals" with whom he did not have a legitimate doctor-patient relationship or did not conduct appropriate medical examinations.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The defense attorney asked Waddoups for leniency, contending Taylor was not providing prescriptions for "significant financial rewards" but to meet his obligation to help former patients with needed medications. Some patients paid nothing, hesaid in a court brief.

He also argued that Taylor has diminished mental capacity and suffers from significant health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes and high blood pressure. The brief says the doctor's decline began in mid-2007 with the loss of his employment, a heart attack, separation from his wife and the unexpected death of a close friend during gall bladder surgery.

As part of a plea deal, the U.S. Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss a second count in the indictment charging Taylor with distribution of hydrocodone. Prosecutors also agreed not to seek a new indictment charging Taylor in any patient overdose death but said his conduct in treating his patients can be a factor in determining his sentence.

The investigation started with information provided to the Utah Department of Professional Licensing, including reports that Taylor was prescribing medication out of his vehicle.

Two civil lawsuits involving patient deaths are pending against Taylor. He has surrendered his licenses to practice medicine, according to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

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