By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU, Wis. — A Wausau doctor accused of offering free in-home medical care in exchange for fentanyl patches is now facing an array of criminal charges.
Thomas J. Strick, 60, appeared March 21 in Marathon County Circuit Court to face four counts of manufacturing or delivering Schedule I or II narcotics and one count of making threats to injure or accuse of a crime. All charges filed against Strick are felonies.
Police say Strick prescribed fentanyl patches to several patients who gave them back to Strick at his request. Strick also allegedly threatened to stop prescribing oxycodone to one patient if she refused to give him the patches, police said.
The allegations date back as far as 2012, according to court documents.
This is not the first time Strick has been under investigation for prescription fraud. In 2004, Strick was convicted of seven counts of prescribing medication for his own use. He served two years probation. In that case, Strick told police his addiction to Vicodin was the result of a 1996 Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis that left him with crippling chronic pain and fatigue, according to court records.
At one point, before his 2004 arrest, Strick’s addiction was so strong he was taking as many as 95 pills each day, investigators said.
In a statement to Wausau Pilot and Review, Aspirus officials said Strick is no longer working for their organization.
“The situation involving our former physician causes us great concern and reinforces our focus on how we serve patients,” the statement read. “We continue to work closely with our physician leaders to monitor the way all our providers prescribe medication, and we regularly evaluate and strengthen our internal protocols.
“When we discovered the issue, we immediately launched an internal investigation and notified local and state authorities.”
Aspirus officials say they are cooperating fully with the investigation.
As of March 21, Strick’s medical license in Wisconsin remains valid.
During an initial appearance Thursday, Strick was ordered not to practice medicine and not to write any prescriptions. He was released on a $10,000 signature bond.
Future court dates have not yet been set.
A mugshot was not available early Thursday but has since been provided.
“Opioid abuse is a national crisis, and we are aware of the tragic impact it has on people and families across the country. We would like to encourage anyone who is struggling with addiction to prescription painkillers to seek help immediately. We have posted a list of community addiction resources to our website www.aspirus.org,” Aspirus officials said Thursday.