Doctors Coffey Internal Medicine & Family Care, the medical practice of Oneida physician Dr. Bruce Coffey, announced Wednesday morning that it will close at the end of the month.
The clinic made the announcement in a Facebook post, citing “multiple conditions,” including Covid-19.
“It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that due to multiple conditions, including COVID 19, Drs Coffey Internal Medicine will close permanently on August 1, 2020,” the post stated.
The last day patients will be seen is Thursday, July 30.
Coffey has seen patients from his clinic on Industrial Lane since January. He made the move to the Industrial Lane location after a massive fire consumed his Underpass Drive facility on the south end of town, near Ponderosa Estates. That fire also destroyed three other businesses — Mark’s Family Pharmacy, Buckeye Home Medical Equipment and PT Solutions. The pharmacy relocated to just off Main Street and is currently preparing to build a permanent location; Buckeye chose not to relocate its Oneida office and instead is operating out of its Huntsville location, at Grace Professional Centre on Baker Highway.
A long-time and prominent physician, Coffey has practiced medicine in Oneida for more than four decades.
The announcement of the clinic’s closing comes one week after federal prosecutors reaffirmed their criminal investigation against Coffey and the former Coffey Family Medical Clinic.
In a filing in U.S. District Court in eastern Kentucky, the government submitted a renewed motion to delay civil proceedings into a more than $600,000 forfeiture involving Coffey, one of his sons and other business associates. In the motion, which was approved by a federal judge, the prosecutor stated that “the United States continues to pursue its criminal investigation of Coffey Family Medical Clinic, David Bruce Coffey, and their affiliates.”
The investigation dates back to the summer of 2018, when state and federal authorities raided Coffey’s medical offices on Underpass Drive, as well as a wellness clinic near Main Street. Although the Drug Enforcement Agency was mum at the time on the nature of the investigation, it was soon revealed that the probe was tied to a series of overdose drug deaths in Kentucky.
In December, the federal government moved to seize more than $1.6 million in bank accounts, vehicles and cash from Coffey and others. In a March court filing, the government said the money and vehicles were seized because “it represents proceeds of drug trafficking and/or was used to facilitate drug trafficking … and because it represents proceeds of money laundering and/or was involved in money laundering offenses…”
The investigation involved federal courts in two states. Search warrants were issued by U.S. District Court in Knoxville, because Coffey’s practice and property were located in Tennessee, while the case itself has been handled in U.S. District Court in Corbin, Ky., because southeastern Kentucky has been the site of the investigation into Coffey’s practices of medically prescribing painkillers and other controlled substances.
As part of the forfeiture process, defendants are entitled to a civil hearing to determine if sufficient reason exists for the seized money and assets to be forfeited. The government has three times successfully sought 90-day delays to that civil process, arguing that “permitting civil discovery at this stage would adversely affect the government’s ability to conduct a full investigation and, potentially a prosecution regarding the subject matter.”
As part of the first such motion, in December, the government filed an affidavit by DEA Special Agent Shawn W. Rogers, laying out part of the case federal authorities are building.
That affidavit illuminated the breadth of the federal case for the first time. Prior to that, federal authorities had given no indication publicly that the investigation that included the 2018 raid of the Oneida businesses was still ongoing.
In the affidavit, Rogers alleged that Coffey’s clinic was “responsible for millions of Schedule II controlled substances being prescribed illegitimately to Kentucky and Tennessee patients.”
He went on to allege that law enforcement uncovered drug trafficking operations in McCreary, Pulaski and Russell counties in Kentucky that used Coffey’s Oneida clinic as their primary source of supply for opioids.
The affidavit claimed that “Coffey Family Medical Clinic operates to make money by writing illegitimate prescriptions to high volumes of patients while trying to maintain the appearance of a legitimate practice.” It included statements from multiple employees of the clinic, one of which allegedly told investigators that Coffey provided pre-signed prescriptions for opioids that could be distributed to patients when he was not at the clinic, along with instructions for staff to take blank prescriptions to him at his farm to be signed if he was not in the clinic and there were no more pre-signed prescription. Another employee allegedly told investigators that Coffey gave employees instructions to not allow authorities to review patients records.
While Rogers’ affidavit laid out a substantial number of findings to support the federal government’s case, no criminal charges have ever been filed. When the government’s forfeiture efforts first came to light, Coffey’s attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, told a Lexington newspaper that it is “significant to note that Dr. Coffey has not been charged with any crime.” The forfeiture motion was filed in civil court; it is not a criminal matter. And, the nature of the search warrants that were executed in the case allows the option of either criminal or civil forfeitures.
Coffey Family Medical Clinic closed in August 2019 after its managing company — South Carolina-based Oaktree Medical Centre PC, a manager of pain clinics — was accused of millions of dollars in health fraud. At that point, Coffey re-established his own clinic as Drs. Coffey.
While Drs. Coffey is closing, the Facebook post stated that Coffey will begin seeing patients on a part-time basis at Mountain People’s Health Councils beginning in October.
October will be just outside the current 90-day window in federal court; prosecutors will have to file a fourth motion to delay the forfeiture proceedings or otherwise resolve the case by the last week of September.