Port Townsend doctor signs settlement after two-year investigation, hopes to put case behind him

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A doctor who was the subject of a two-year investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office has signed a settlement agreement that he said will bring his practice back to normal.

Dr. James Kimber Rotchford, whose expertise is in pain management and addiction therapy, will again be able to prescribe controlled substances after the paperwork is finalized, perhaps in the next couple of weeks, he said.

The terms of the agreement reached Nov. 5 require Rotchford to pay $110,000 in restitution, not break any laws for the next 18 months and take 45 hours of continuing medical education in the next 18 months.

He also cannot accept any Medicaid patients.

Rotchford said Friday that he already had paid the restitution, a condition of the agreement that ends the investigation.

Search warrants were executed on Rotchford’s home and business, Olympic Pain and Addiction Services at 1334 Lawrence St., on Dec. 20, 2010, and he has been unable to prescribe controlled substances since then.

At the time, Assistant Attorney General Aileen Miller would not provide information about the warrants but said her department was concerned with Medicaid fraud.

She could not be reached for comment Friday.

No arrest was made, and no charges were filed. The doctor’s office was closed briefly before it was reopened.

Rotchford said there was no resolution to the matter until about six months ago, when his attorney, Amanda Lee, began to negotiate the settlement.

Rotchford said he was grateful that the Attorney General’s Office chose to negotiate.

“This is good news for everyone: I don’t have to spend money that I don’t have to defend myself, and [the Attorney General’s Office] doesn’t have to prosecute the case,” he said.

“I’m happy that they were willing to make this agreement,” he added.

“If they had pressed charges, it would have been a disaster for me as I could not have afforded to go to court,”

Rotchford said several members of the community had come forward with financial support, which allowed him to afford his legal expenses and hire an attorney.

Another advantage of the agreement is that it allows Rotchford to protect patient records and make sure they get adequate medical care, he said.

In 2009, Rotchford was honored with a Jefferson County Heart of Service Award for “unselfish dedication, sacrifice and accomplishments” in community service.

He received the award, which is sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News and the three Rotary Clubs of Jefferson County, for his work as the medical director and one of two physicians who treat patients at the JC MASH free medical clinic in Port Townsend.

Rotchford was a primary motivating force in founding JC MASH in August 1994.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 17. 2012 5:52PM
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