Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A doctor convicted of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances to undercover investigators at his pain management clinic in Wilmington was sentenced Monday to three years probation despite the prosecution’s bid for prison time.

Dr. John Dimowo was found guilty last year of seven felony counts of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance. The 57-year-old Walnut resident was acquitted of an eighth count.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig E. Veals used his discretion to reduce the counts to misdemeanors and effectively sentence Dimowo to time served and probation. The doctor has already performed more than double the community service time he was ordered to complete.

“In no way do I countenance what he did,” Veals said, agreeing that the abuse of prescription drugs was a “scourge.”

However, the judge said a prison sentence was “wholly disproportionate” to Dimowo’s crime, noting that there were about 100 pills involved.

Veals also said the defendant’s 353 hours of community service work, completed after being ordered to put in 130 hours, “demonstrates a willingness to rehabilitate.”

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Dibble argued that Dimowo should be sentenced to four years in prison.

“These prescription drug cases are very serious,” Dibble told the court, arguing that the doctor shouldn’t be treated differently than other drug offenders because of his education and privilege.

“Reckless with his license, he was reckless with the public trust,” based on “the shoddy method with which he was prescribing dangerous narcotics,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Femi Banjo said his client was remorseful.

“To show how penitent the defendant has been, this has worried him so much that he has had a stroke,” Banjo said.

Dimowo was hunched and seemed to have trouble walking to the defense table.

The doctor has learned his lesson and his example of mopping floors and changing beds as part of his community service has helped “encourage other people to change their ways,” Banjo said.

The judge said he was struck by the prosecution’s notion “that justice won’t be served here until Dr. Dimowo receives … a state prison commitment. The fact is that he has suffered … it is not as if he has received carte blanche or a complete pass.”

Veals said Dimowo had “lost his license, he’s lost his career, he’s lost his position.”

Dibble said he wasn’t convinced that Dimowo would permanently lose his license and called the doctor a “continuing danger to society.”

Dimowo surrendered his California license, but proceedings have not been concluded as to the ultimate disposition, according to both sides. Investigations by state and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials could be influenced by the decision to drop the felony convictions to misdemeanors, according to Dibble.

Undercover agents from the Medical Board of California went to Dimowo’s Wilmington office between March 2012 and March 2013, paid between $250 and $400 per visit and received prescriptions for Adderall, hydrocodone and alprazolam without receiving appropriate examinations, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Dimowo was arrested in court on April 17 last year on allegations that he violated the terms of his release on bail by writing dozens of prescriptions to patients despite a court order barring him from doing so. He served five days in jail and went back to jail for another 15 days when he was convicted last May.

— City News Service 

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