Former Old Saybrook doctor arrested for prescription violations

A doctor who used to practice in Old Saybrook was charged Tuesday with 47 felonies after allegedly continuing to prescribe controlled substances despite having his license to do so suspended last year.

Old Saybrook police said Scott W. Houghton, 43, of 15 Shepherds Trail, Madison, was charged with 30 counts of illegal prescribing/sale of narcotics; 14 counts of illegal prescribing/sale of controlled substance; two counts of failure to maintain controlled substance records with intent; and one count of failure to maintain security for controlled substance records with intent.

A warrant for his arrest was signed April 6, Old Saybrook Police Sgt. Kevin Roche said, and Houghton turned himself in Tuesday morning at the Old Saybrook Police Department.

The arrest comes after more than a two-year investigation, Roche said.

Houghton was released on a court-set bond of $250,000 and is scheduled to appear in court April 26.

Federal, state and local agencies raided Houghton's office on Feb. 2, 2010. The authorities executed a search-and-seizure warrant at Premier Medical Associates at 929 Boston Post Road. Officers were carrying boxes of paper from the office, which is on the second and third floors of the complex. No arrests were made at that time, police said.

Agents from the following agencies took part: the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and from the Drug Control Division of the state Department of Consumer Protection, the state Department of Public Health and town police.

"We have strong reason to believe that Dr. Scott Houghton has prescripted prescription substances including Demerol, Percocet, Valium and Fentanyl for a patient in a frequency that exceeds his own directions for use," state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr., said in a statement after the February 2010 search-and-seizure operation.

He also said that Houghton failed to prescribe controlled substances in good faith and posed "an imminent threat to the public health, safety and welfare, and requiring immediate emergency action."

After last year's raid, Houghton's license to prescribe controlled substances was suspended. Suspending or revoking a controlled substance registration prevents a doctor from being able to prescribe a number of drugs, but it does not forbid them from practicing medicine or prescribing antibiotics and mild painkillers.

"The controlled substance certificate was suspended in February of 2010 and remains in suspended status. It is not active," Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection spokeswoman Claudette Carveth said Tuesday.

Tuesday's arrest comes after police allege that Houghton continued to prescribe controlled substances, despite the suspension.

Houghton has been a licensed physician in the state since 2004, according to records from the state Department of Public Health.

He graduated from Jefferson Medical College, part of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, in 2001.

Houghton currently practices in Westbrook.

Old Saybrook Fire Chief J.T. Dunn said Houghton served as the department's physician, a nonpaying, nonmember position that gives medical advice, since January 2007. Houghton also provided physicals for department members since September 2006.

Dunn said Houghton was relieved of his position with the fire department Tuesday morning.

"It's disappointing that someone we worked with for so long was arrested on a felony charge," Dunn said, adding that Houghton had served as his personal physician as well. "He always performed admirably, and we had not had any issues."

A message left at Houghton's office seeking comment on Tuesday was not returned.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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