By Shereen Siewert

A Wausau doctor who offered free in-home medical care in exchange for fentanyl patches will spend three months in federal prison after being sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge William Conley on charges of obtaining fentanyl by use of misrepresentation or fraud..

Thomas J. Strick, 60, was initially charged March 21 in Marathon County Circuit Court, but local charges were dropped when the case was picked up by federal prosecutors.

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.

According to a U.S. Dept. of Justice release, Strick was employed as a family practice physician at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and the Aspirus Wausau Family Clinic when, between 2011 and 2018, Strick prescribed fentanyl patches to at least six patients without a medical need.  Strick instructed the patients to fill the prescriptions and return the fentanyl patches to him for personal use, telling the patients that he needed the fentanyl to relieve his pain.  Investigators determined that Strick had written 193 fraudulent prescriptions for fentanyl patches and had acquired 3,156 patches as a result of the prescriptions.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Conley stated that Strick violated the public’s trust by using his position as a physician to feed his own drug addiction. Strick abused his professional responsibility by enlisting his patients to participate in prescription fraud, Conley said.

The scheme “exploited his patients by using their sense of obligation to him while he repeatedly breached their trust,” the release stated.

Strick had been previously convicted in Marathon County in 2004 for similar conduct.

As a result of his conviction in this case, Strick has been suspended from practicing medicine and surgery by the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board.

The charges against Strick are the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Wausau Police Department. The prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron D. Wegner.