A former Appalachia physician and his wife have been convicted on multiple charges involving prescription fraud and distributing opioids.

Michael B. Ford, 75, of Big Stone Gap, and Una Faye Ford, 69, were convicted of 15 felonies Friday morning in Wise County Circuit Court, according to a release from Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp. Those included distribution of Schedule II drugs, prescription fraud and Medicaid fraud.

They entered pleas under the Alford rule, meaning they did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to convict them.

The Fords formerly operated the Appalachia Medical Clinic. Its operations became the target of an investigation by the Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Unit and other law enforcement agencies after reports were made of illegal activities.

In March 2018, search warrants were executed at the clinic and the Fords’ residence.

“Evidence revealed that on various dates in 2017, Dr. Ford presigned prescriptions for the use of his employees and patients of the clinic,” the release states. “Prescriptions for powerful opioid drugs were distributed without the doctor being present or without the patients ever seeing a physician. On at least one occasion, Dr. Ford and Mrs. Ford were on vacation in California, but instead of shutting down the clinic for their trip, the couple willfully caused clinic employees to make false statements or representations of a material fact to receive payments from Medicaid.”

Prosecutors did not offer a plea agreement to the Fords. A judge will determine an appropriate sentence after listening to evidence at sentencing hearings.

Sentencing for Dr. Ford is scheduled for Dec. 16-17, 2019. Sentencing for Mrs. Ford is scheduled for Jan. 6-7, 2020. The couple could each receive up to 215 years in prison.

Slemp thanked Senior Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Ken Lammers for his work on the case and thanked law enforcement officers including Virginia State Police Special Agent David Robbins.

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