KEALAKEKUA — A Kona doctor who pleaded guilty to prescription fraud, voluntarily forfeited his medical licenses and was sentenced to four years probation.
Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino on Tuesday granted Clifton Arrington a deferred acceptance of his guilty plea, meaning if Arrington serves his four years of probation and fulfills the conditions listed in a plea agreement, he has the opportunity to have the charges dismissed with prejudice.
“I’m before you today because of serious errors I made,” Arrington stated to the court. “These errors were irresponsible and inexcusable.”
Arrington pleaded guilty to one count of prohibited acts, in which he pre-dated or pre-signed prescriptions to facilitate the obtaining or attempted obtaining of controlled substances. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, one count of second-degree promotion of a harmful drug and two counts of second-degree promotion of a harmful drug as a lesser offense.
The Ocean View man was first arrested March 17, 2016, at his North Kona office in the Honalo Business Center by the state Narcotics Enforcement Division while patients were awaiting appointments. At the time, Arrington was released pending the investigation.
After an indictment Aug. 8, 2017, Arrington turned himself in a few days later and was released on supervised release, according to court documents.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Kate Perazich stated the investigation began in March 2016 when one of Arrington’s patients attempted to fill medication at Costco that had a pre-dated prescription. It was at that point the doctor was flagged by the state.
Perazich told the court investigators recovered a large amount of prescription drugs at his office. While the court is aware of his occupation, Arrington’s state license only allowed him to prescribe narcotic medications, not possess them.
Perazich stated Arrington said he was not aware of the requirements by state law.
“At best, his decisions were reckless,” she said.
Arrington’s counsel, Richard H.S. Sing, said his client regrets his conduct.
“I think if you look at the rest of his life and career, his patients love and support him,” Sing said. “He’s done a lot of good work for them over the years.”
Sing added Arrington had a federal narcotics license that allowed him to distribute. It was an administrative error that never should have happened.
Sing said Arrington’s practice closed its doors Dec. 31. The doctor is largely retired, at this point.
Arrington explained in court that he would take back narcotic medications from patients who no longer needed them.
Part of Arrington’s sentence requires him to complete 200 hours of community service and pay more than $7,000 in restitution.
Arrington has practiced medicine in Honalo for more than 35 years. He specializes in anti-aging medicine and was licensed and registered by the state Department of Public Safety as a person who is able to distribute, dispense or conduct research with respect to a controlled substance.
Email Tiffany DeMasters at firstname.lastname@example.org.