Richard Michael DeWine's attack on 61 Ohio physicians he falsely-accused of being drug dealers is the exact and traceable reason Ohioans went to the streets instead of doctors for pain medications.

DeWine admits his calling 61 pain docs drug dealers drove Ohioans to heroin

Ohio Attorney General Richard Michael DeWine launched a questionable campaign against pain management physicians and accused them of being drug dealers without probable cause.  As DeWine exceeded the legal authority of the attorney general’s office to harass physicians out of a medical license, and their employees out of jobs, he sent nearly 25,000 Ohioans to the streets and their overdosing deaths after his reckless publicity-driven campaign. It makes him the worst mass murderer in Ohio history.

CLEVELAND, OH – In a 2015 telephone interview Governor Richard Michael DeWine, when he was the state’s attorney general, shockingly revealed to an Ohio law enforcement newsletter how his duty-exceeding pursuit of physicians he accused without evidence of being drug dealers or “pill mill” operators caused people to turn to heroin.

EJBNEWS uncovered DeWine’s sad admission in a February 16, 2015 newsletter published by the Ohio Task Force Commanders Association.  The newsletter featured a story headlined, “Ohio state, local officials working to prevent ‘pill mills’.”

The story doesn’t carry a byline, but the writer wrote that a telephone interview was conducted with DeWine.  The writer notes that after DeWine took office in 2011, he caused 61 doctors and pharmacists to lose their licenses based on claims they were improperly dispensing prescription drugs.  The writer then quotes DeWine. 

“We certainly don’t want to deny these pain medications to anybody who really needs them, but they can be very addicting.  Many times, these people who were addicted to pain medication would switch to heroin because heroin is cheaper. Babies are born to addicted mothers.”

DeWine’s admission that his political grandstanding may have triggered the state’s heroin epidemic is exactly what former pain management physician James Lundeen has claimed as one of the medical practitioners who lost his license to practice medicine.  He’s ripped DeWine in his appeals to the state’s courts for targeting Ohio physicians for investigations without probable cause; and for conducting raids of physician’s offices for incriminating evidence that didn’t lead to prosecutions.   Lundeen has never been charged for any violations of law.

Attorney General Richard Michael DeWine’s 2011 and 2012 raids on pain management clinics only resulted in two prosecutions.

Lundeen said DeWine’s raids drove legitimate physicians who were treating Ohioans for pain out of the state; and made others too afraid to treat suffering patients.

DeWine made a big deal about Lundeen being a drug dealer when he brought agents from 10 agencies to Portsmouth to raid his 12 clinics on March 15 and 16 of 2011. Lundeen in an appeal said DeWine secured search warrants based upon unspecified false statements made by unidentified individuals.  DeWine, he claimed, then had his agents remove items that were beyond the scope of the warrants.

DeWine as an attorney general is not authorized under Ohio law to conduct criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state unless he’s received a written request from the governor to do so against a person who has been indicted.  He can “appear for the state in the trial and argument of all civil and criminal causes in the supreme court in which the state is directly or indirectly interested.”  The attorney general’s duties are found in 109.02 of Ohio’s revised code.

DeWine was clear in his statement to the newsletter’s writer, and to reporters throughout Ohio, that he was investigating doctors who he had no doubt were “drug dealers.

“We still have a number of cases under investigation. What we found is there were doctors who were really just drug dealers. Sometimes it was cash, sometimes it was Medicaid. Many times, taxpayers were paying for these overdoses.”

DeWine in his capacity as Ohio’s attorney general would engage in a federal “misprision of felony” violation of Chapter 18 and section 4 of the United States Code if he knew Lundeen was a drug dealer and didn’t cause him to be prosecuted.   The statute reads that, “Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Former pain management physician James Lundeen was accused of being a drug dealer by attorney general Richard Michael DeWine without proof. A raid of his 12 offices didn’t produce any evidence of a crime. No federal or state prosecutor prosecuted him. Lundeen said DeWine drove patients whose pain he managed to the streets in search of heroin.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Carter Stewart, reviewed DeWine’s referrals and chose to prosecute  two of the 61 physicians and pharmacists whose offices he obtained search warrants to raid:  Christopher Stegawski of Cleveland and John Randy Callihan of Portsmouth.  The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio didn’t prosecute any.   Local prosecutors didn’t pick up on the evidence DeWine gathered from his constitutionally-questionable raids.

Governor John Kasich didn’t ask DeWine to investigate or prosecute the un-indicted six-dozen physicians and pharmacists he had defamed as “drug dealers” without evidence even his constitutional rights-violating and search warrant-driven raids failed to uncover.   

In Lundeen’s case, and that of the other physicians, DeWine’s unsuccessful attempts to get federal and county prosecutors to completely back his publicity-fueled raids caused him to pressure the state medical board’s members and administrative staff by flooding them with his already rejected “evidence.” 

Fentanyl deaths under Richard Cordray during his term as the state’s attorney general were less than 80 a year. After Richard Michael DeWine replaced him and launched a reckless campaign against pain management physicians, heroin and fentanyl overdoses skyrocketed.

The accuser in Lundeen’s case was “DeWine” and not any of his patients.  It was DeWine’s attorneys representing the state’s medical board against the physicians their boss was accusing. 

DeWine “found” two patients to testify that Lundeen had dispensed narcotics to them without an examination and that they’d become addicted; but neither patient had filed or thought to file a complaint against the physician.  Based on DeWine’s rigged proceedings the medical board concluded that over a 34-year period Lundeen violated standard care for 26 patients based off the testimony of just DeWine’s “found” two.  Lundeen admits his mistake was relying on an attorney who told him not to attend the hearing. 

Lundeen had a witness whose story DeWine’s employees encouraged the medical board to disregard, Carolyn Shelton.

With DeWine terrorizing Ohio physicians out of the state, Lundeen patients like Shelton could not find one in her area willing to treat her. She finally found a physician in Columbus whose treatment resulted in her being addicted to morphine.  Shelton’s testimony was that Lundeen had her pain in remission and that he was carefully monitoring her to “avoid” addiction.

Fentanyl overdosing deaths were minor during Richard Cordray’s single term as attorney general that began in 2007. They rose dramatically after Attorney General Richard Michael DeWine started a witch hunt campaign against pain management physicians that drove them out of business and the state; and their patients to the streets in search of illegal pain managing narcotics.

Lundeen and other physicians treated patients like Shelton with oxycodone  But after DeWine’s attack on the state’s pain management physicians heroin and fentanyl use started dramatically increasing.

Lundeen’s appeals reveal administrative proceedings so irregular there was no way any of the physicians would win with the deck DeWine stacked against them.  The former physician was so financially-destroyed after DeWine’s attacks he didn’t have money for legal fees to protect his rights and has been representing himself.

DeWine’s opponent in the campaign for Ohio governor, Richard Cordray, served as attorney general before him when there were fewer than 80 fentanyl overdosing deaths a year during his term between 2007 and 2010.

Cordray has thrown heavy shots at DeWine’s handling of the state’s heroin and fentanyl overdosing crisis that’s killing nearly 5000 Ohioans a year.  He recently tweeted an equation of DeWine’s newfound fentanyl advice as coming from the captain of the Titanic.

Tracking the timeline of DeWine’s attacks on pain management clinics that began in 2011 and it’s evident that some act triggered the jump in heroin and fentanyl deaths from under in 2010 (Cordray’s last year in office) to 84 in 2013 to 504 in 2014.   

Overdose deaths from fentanyl grew to 1155 in 2015 to 2357 in 2016 as its use went from legal to the streets.  Overdose deaths overall in Ohio topped 4854 last year for a total of 20,000 since DeWine’s attack on the state’s pain management physicians began in 2011. 

When this year’s totals are added the number of dead will be over 25,000.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.