Kent doctor pleads not guilty to prescribing drugs without a license

By Jennifer L. Pangyanszki Record-Courier staff w Published:

A Kent doctor whose medical license was suspended nearly two years ago pleaded not guilty Thursday in the Portage County Common Pleas Court to allegations she continued prescribing drugs to patients through last August.

Ellen Harris, 56, of Tallmadge, was arrested this week on 22 counts of illegal processing of drug documents, a fifth-degree felony, for allegedly prescribing drugs from the Middlebury Road office she has held for 16 years after her license to practice medicine was suspended by the Ohio Medical Board in July 1997.

The medical board suspended her license for allegedly prescribing controlled substances to patients addicted to narcotics, according to Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci, who said Harris also allegedly prescribed improper diet medications.

Her present charges stem from an investigation by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy involving "a whole shopping list of different prescription medications," he said.

During Harris' arraignment, her attorney, Robert Berger, said the allegations are based on prescriptions for birth control, hormone and thyroid pills, not dangerous types of medications.

Harris filed an appeal to her license suspension with the medical board that was denied in February, Berger said.

Frank Bodi, a pharmacy board compliance officer who investigated the case, declined to comment _ except to say the investigation was prompted by the medical board.

A spokesperson for the medical board could not be reached for comment.

Assistant Prosecutor Barbara Oswick said Harris pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud in Cuyahoga County, where other charges could be pending.

Each of the 22 counts in Portage County carry a possible prison sentence of up to one year in prison, Vigluicci said.

Trial was set before Judge Joseph Kainrad at 9 a.m. on June 29. Harris was released from the Portage County Jail on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond and 10 percent of a $10,000 bond on the condition she does not practice medicine or prescribe medications during the court proceedings.

Harris agreed to the conditions and told Kainrad she is trying to sell her office in Kent.

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