KEALAKEKUA — A Kona doctor who pleaded guilty to prescription fraud, voluntarily forfeited his medical licenses and was sentenced to four years probation.
On Tuesday, Clifton Arrington appeared in 3rd Circuit Court where Judge Melvin Fujino granted the former physician a deferred acceptance of his guilty plea, meaning if the doctor serves his four-year probation and fulfills the conditions listed in the agreement, he has the opportunity to have the charges dismissed with prejudice.
“I’m before you today because of serious errors I made,” Arrington stated to the court. “These errors were irresponsible and inexcusable.”
A medical practice, which has been his “life’s work,” is now closed.
“I do have a second chance to do the right thing,” Arrington added.
Fujino told Arrington he was in receipt of letters sent to him on the doctor’s behalf.
“It’s apparent to this court that you chose this profession to take care of the community,” the judge said. “I see you contributed a lot to our community.”
Arrington pleaded guilty to one count of prohibited acts B in which he predated or pre-signed prescriptions to facilitate the obtaining or attempted obtaining of controlled substances. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, one count of second-degree promotion of a harmful drug and two counts of second-degree promotion of a harmful drug as a lesser offense.
The Ocean View man was first arrested at his North Kona office in Honalo Business Center by the state Narcotics Enforcement Division on March 17, 2016, while patients were awaiting appointments. At the time, Arrington was released pending the investigation.
After an indictment was filed in the 3rd Circuit Court on Aug. 8, 2017, Arrington turned himself in a few days later and was released on supervised release, according to court documents.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Kate Perazich stated to the court the investigation began in March 2016 when one of Arrington’s patients attempted to fill medication at Costco that had a predated prescription. It was at that point that the doctor was flagged by the state.
Perazich told the court investigators recovered a large amount of prescription drugs at the doctor’s office. While the court is aware of his occupation, his state license with the Narcotics Enforcement Division under the Department of Public Safety indicate he is allowed to prescribe narcotic medications, but not possess.
Perazich stated Arrington said he was not aware of the requirements by state law.
“At best, his decisions were reckless,” she said.
Perazich stated there’s no excuse for that.
“I think our primary concern was ensuring that this didn’t continue to happen or happen again,” Perazich said after the hearing. “These laws … they protect people from misusing and getting addicting to drugs.”
Arrington’s counsel Richard H.S. Sing said his client regrets his conduct.
“I think if you look at the rest of his life and career, his patients love and support him,” Sing said. “He’s done a lot of good work for them over the years.”
Sing added Arrington had a federal narcotics license that allowed him to distribute. It was an administrative error that should’ve never happened.
Sing said Arrington’s practice closed its doors on Dec. 31. The doctor is largely retired, at this point.
“This is certainly unlikely to reoccur,” he added.
Arrington explained in court he would take back narcotic medications from patients who no longer needed them.
Sing told the court they submit on the plea agreement, stating it adequately addresses the seriousness of the case.
Part of Arrington’s sentence requires the Ocean View man complete 200 hours of community service and pay more than $7,000 in restitution.
Arrington has practiced medicine in Honalo for more than 35 years. He specializes in anti-aging medicine and was licensed and registered by the Department of Public Safety as a person who is able to distribute, dispense or conduct research with respect to a controlled substance.