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Ex-doctor who pleaded guilty to negligently prescribing opioids maintains innocence

Opioid Litigation

Diane Shafer appeared in court Tuesday, in Putnam County. A former doctor, Shafer is named in two of several lawsuits filed against Southern West Virginia pharmacies, physicians and pharmacists by 29 Mingo County residents who allege prescription writing and filling practices fueled their drug addiction.

WINFIELD — In 2012, Diane Shafer was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally providing prescriptions — more than 118,000 in a six-year period — to patients she never examined.

On Tuesday, the former Mingo County doctor stood on the defendant’s side of Judge Joseph Reeder’s Putnam County courtroom. She is named in two of several lawsuits filed against Southern West Virginia pharmacies, doctors and pharmacists by 29 Mingo County residents who allege prescription writing and filling practices in the 2000s fueled their drug addiction and caused them avoidable pain and suffering.

Shafer, though, maintains that — despite her guilty plea in 2012 for abusing her Drug Enforcement Administration Registration number to write thousands of pain pill prescriptions, sometimes for cash, usually with no examination — she is innocent.

“I’m not the treating doctor, so I can’t be at fault, not for any of this,” she said in the parking lot, after Tuesday’s hearing. “Just because someone breaks an arm and someone takes medicine doesn’t mean that person doesn’t need it ... but it’s not a doctor’s fault if someone takes that medicine irresponsibly. It’s not a doctor’s fault.”

Shafer surrendered her West Virginia medical license in 2009, after State Police investigators raided her office and found illegal, pre-signed prescriptions.

That same year, she shut down her pain clinic — a small, white house in downtown Williamson where, according to a state-federal probe from the time, hundreds of people entered the storefront clinic daily, paid between $150 and $450 cash, and left with prescriptions for pain drugs.

In March 2010, one of Shafer’s office workers, Lisa Baisden, pleaded guilty to federal charges that she handed out pre-signed prescriptions at the clinic in exchange for a share of pills. Baisden was sentenced to three years probation.

Court filings from 2011 allege that Shafer took in more than $1.36 million a year at her clinic. When federal investigators served warrants to search her apartment — which she shared with Katherine Hoover, a doctor at the former Mountain Medical Center who is named in these lawsuits with the same allegations as Shafer — they found hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

On Tuesday, Shafer was adamant that those who have decided she’s done wrong were “ignorant, dishonest liars.” She insisted there was no evidence to prove any wrongdoing on her part.

When asked about her previous guilty plea and why she believed she was still named in these cases, years after they were filed, if there was no evidence, she shook her head and wrung her hands exasperatedly.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re using to name me here. It’s sort of typical. They know I didn’t do anything,” she said. “It’s like, joining the bandwagon, you know. The easy thing to do, ‘Oh, let’s go after the doctor.’ Ignorant and dishonest, the lot of them.”

Caity Coyne is a corps member

with Report for America, an initiative of

The GroundTruth Project. Reach her

at caity.coyne@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-7939 or follow

@CaityCoyne on Twitter.

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.