A Port Royal doctor who pleaded guilty in federal court to trading painkiller prescriptions for cocaine likely faces more than prison time and a fine.
Dr. David Vincent Rhodes, whose South Carolina medical license was suspended indefinitely last May 7, will lose it for good if the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners decides to revoke his privileges.
Spokeswoman Lesia Kudelka said Tuesday that state law prohibits the board from acknowledging investigations. However, she added that the board can investigate after being informed of legal action against a doctor.
Rhodes entered his guilty plea Monday and agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation that already has resulted in indictments against 24 others. He admitted during a hearing before federal district Judge Sol Blatt Jr. that he wrote prescriptions for Oxycontin and other painkillers for people he knew had no medical reason to have them. In exchange, he received cocaine.
Rhodes had been working at Lowcountry Medical Group, which said in a statement Tuesday that its board of directors "has no option other than to take steps to move his temporary leave of absence status to permanent."
The group has said it cooperated with authorities during the investigation, which included a search last May of Rhodes' office in the group's building in the Shell Point area of the town of Port Royal.
Rhodes is not expected to be sentenced until the cases of other defendants are settled, which could take about three months, according to prosecutors.
He could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison and fined more than $1 million. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Phillips has asked that Rhodes pay $150,000 -- the amount of proceeds from his illegal activity -- and receive a sentence of nine years to 11 years, three months.
- Beaufort doctor pleads guilty to distributing painkillers in exchange for cocaine, Monday, Feb. 5, 2013
- Beaufort doctor targeted in DEA investigation, Friday, May 11, 2012
- Port Royal doctor remains on leave, authorities tight-lipped on DEA case, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012
- DEA charges 18 Beaufort County residents with conspiracy to sell distribute cocaine, pills, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012