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AG probing deaths of 36 patients in doctor’s care

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

A search warrant served by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division alleges that 36 patients died while in the care of an Albuquerque psychiatrist over a six-year period.

Edwin B. Hall ran a now-closed practice at 1709 Girard Blvd. NE. He has not been charged with a crime, and the warrant states that investigations into 30 of the 36 deaths are ongoing.

Six of the deaths were allegedly the result of overdoses, according to the warrant and information from the New Mexico Medical Board.

Hall’s attorney, Molly Schmidt-Nowara of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward P.A., said in an email that “none of the allegations contained in the warrant have been substantiated at this time.”

Law enforcement executed the search last week and collected an external hard drive and USB cable made available to them by Schmidt-Nowara. The warrant authorized the seizure of medical, treatment and prescription records for anyone treated by Hall or other providers in his practice, as well as all records for individuals employed by Hall.

The warrant describes a complaint about Hall received by the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department that subsequently led to a referral to the Attorney General’s Office in April 2017.

Special Agent Ted Martinez of the Attorney General’s Office stated in the document that “a preliminary examination of Medicaid claims submitted by Dr. Edwin B. Hall for the time period of 2013 through 2018 revealed thirty … patients that had died while under Dr. Edwin B. Hall’s care.”

Additionally, the warrant states that a report from the Office of the Medical Investigator provided to the New Mexico Medical Board found that six of Hall’s patients died of overdoses between 2015 and 2017.

The Journal has not yet been able to verify the existence or content of the report.

In March of this year, Hall agreed to surrender his medical license to the Medical Board amid allegations that included that an unlicensed individual was treating patients at his practice and billing Medicaid under his name.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hall admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to pay $5,000 in fines and $2,500 in fees.

A board spokeswoman told the Journal that the agreement indicates the board had evidence Hall “prescribed controlled substance medications and combinations of medications in a manner posing a threat to the health of his minor and adult patients, and six of his patients died of an overdose.”

The board had previously sent a cease-and-desist letter to John Alexander Connell at the Girard address alleging Connell “diagnosed and treated patients in Dr. Hall’s practice … prescribed medication using Dr. Hall’s name … and billed for treatment of patients under Dr. Hall’s name.”

Connell voluntarily surrendered his medical licenses in Georgia and New York in 2008 after Georgia’s medical board investigated him for “writing a prescription for a dangerous drug” for a new patient without examining him and engaging in a sexual relationship with another patient, according to documents from the medical boards in both states.

An attorney for Connell declined to comment.

The New Mexico Courts website shows three civil lawsuits pending against Hall alleging medical negligence. One of the suits also names Connell as defendant.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said the agency is “conducting an ongoing investigation but cannot comment beyond the publicly filed documents. The Attorney General has created an AG opioid strike-force to investigate and litigate opioid matters in New Mexico.”