Local doctor accused of writing illegal prescriptions online

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A local doctor is facing charges in Massachusetts, accused of writing illegal prescriptions for online pharmacies. Now, we've learned similar allegations have been brought against him, right here in Virginia.

Federal prosecutors in Boston filed eleven charges against Dr. Torino Jennings of Mechanicsville including introducing mis-branded drugs into interstate commerce and tax evasion. Up until Thursday, he practiced medicine at Retreat Doctor's Hospital in The Fan.

Federal court documents obtained by NBC12 show between 2004 and 2007, Dr. Jennings wrote between 50 and 100 thousand prescriptions over the internet for the muscle relaxant "Soma" and other drugs to people he never examined or even met.

The documents state Dr. Jennings received from online pharmacies between five and seven dollars per prescription and did not report hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the IRS.

A spokesperson for Retreat Hospital says Dr, Jennings' privileges to practice were suspended Thursday morning after they were notified of the charges.

We checked with the Virginia Board of Medicine and discovered similar allegations in the Commonwealth, between 2004 and 2006.

Documents obtained from the Virginia Board of Medicine's web site show Dr. Jennings paid a $10,000 fine last February for prescribing medications including Cialis, Levitra, Ultram and Viagra to people through the internet without a doctor's visit. One of those people was treated for liver complications, according to the Board of Medicine.

Carmen Catizone with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy says 93 percent of online pharmacies operate illegally and seek out willing doctors through advertisements in journals and on the web.

"Problem is these pharmacies try and fly under the radar and don't register with states and doctors don't register and takes some time to track them down identify them and bring them to court," said Catizone.

Jennings is also facing four counts of tax evasion, he's accused of not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in income between 2004 and 2007.  So far, no court hearing has been set.

Copyright 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.