Pubdate: Thu, 01 Aug 2002
Source: Sun News (SC)
Copyright: 2002 Sun Publishing Co.
Author: Elaine Gaston


FLORENCE - Guns, gun parts, thousands of rounds of ammunition and books on 
how to make machine guns and hide assets were among items seized from Dr. 
D. Michael Woodward's office last year, according to court testimony Wednesday.

Woodward, 45, is among several doctors charged in connection with a federal 
investigation involving the unlawful distribution of OxyContin and other 
pain medications at the defunct Comprehensive Care & Pain Management Clinic 
in Myrtle Beach.

He's facing up to life in prison if convicted on charges of unlawful 
distribution of controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled 
substances outside the usual course of medical practice and money launder-ing.

Woodward appeared in federal court in Florence with his attorneys, Joseph 
McCullough and William Watkins, seeking a reduction in the $250,000 bond 
set shortly after his arrest last month. After about two hours of 
testimony, Judge Thomas Rogers III denied the defense's motion, citing 
concerns about Woodward's risk to flee prosecution and threats government 
witnesses alleged Woodward made in the past.

"And the mere existence of these guns does give me concern," the judge 
said, pointing to the seizure of 21 firearms and about 17,000 rounds of 
ammunition found in Woodward's office at the Myrtle Beach pain clinic in 
May 2001.

Woodward was the owner and executive director of the clinic, where 
authorities say hundreds of patients a day visited and received pain 
medications from doctors who worked there.

Other doctors charged in the case include Michael D. Jackson, 55; Thomas P. 
Dublin, 60; Deborah B. Sutherland, 52; Deborah Bordeaux, 50; Ricardo 
Alerre, 72; and Venkata R. Pulivarthi, 42.

Woodward has been living for the past 10 months in Florida with his wife 
and three children. He was pursuing a certification in neurology, hoping to 
resume the practice of medicine.

Woodward's wife attended Wednesday's hearing and the two often exchanged 
glances and smiles before the hearing.

U.S. assistant attorneys William Day and Deborah Barbier called several 
witnesses connected to the investigation in an attempt to show Woodward was 
a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Harry Bracy, a special investigator with the S.C. Attorney General's Office 
and a former investigator with the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners, 
testified he first met Woodward in 1994 when a patient of Woodward's 
alleged the doctor sexually assaulted her.

Bracy testified two other women who worked with Woodward said the doctor 
made threats against them. One woman told Bracy that Woodward once 
commented he'd taken part in a killing in Georgia and dumped the body in a 

Bracy also said another of Woodward's employees told the investigator 
Woodward had made a death threat against Bracy.

"I got a call late at night by an employee of the defendant to warn me I 
was not going to see 2000," Bracy said. The alleged threat occurred in 
1995, Bracy said.

Woodward's attorney asked Bracy why none of the women went to the police 
about the threats, why Bracy failed to check out Woodward's comment about 
the Georgia killing and why he never followed up on Woodward's alleged 
threat against him.

"Is it because you never placed any credence in that?" McCullough said. 
Bracy acknowledged he did not follow up on the Georgia allegation.

The defense attorney also pointed out that a couple of the women recanted 
their statements about the alleged threats. He called them unsubstantiated 

Drug Enforcement Administration investigator Adam Roberson testified other 
employees of Woodward said the doctor made statements he was connected to 
the mafia and had means to cause harm.

One doctor, Benjamin Moore, 45, who had recently pleaded guilty on charges 
of unlawful distribution of OxyContin, conspiracy to commit health care 
fraud and conspiracy to launder money and was awaiting sentencing in 
connection with the investigation, committed suicide last week. He was 
facing up to 45 years in prison.

Roberson said Moore was cooperating with the government, was aware of 
Woodward's firearms and told investigators Woodward threatened to have him 
killed after learning Moore spoke to the DEA.

Woodward's attorney downplayed the government's seizure of firearms, 
ammunition and books, saying his client broke no laws by having them in his 

McCullough also suggested the books belonged to other doctors in the 
practice and that others had access to Woodward's office. And he said 
Moore's credibility was compromised because he suffered from a mental 
illness and was taking medications for it.


Seven Myrtle Beach doctors are charged in a federal investigation of 
illegal distribution of controlled substances, including OxyContin, 
involving the now-closed Comprehensive Care & Pain Management Clinic in 
Myrtle Beach.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth