N.S. doctor found not guilty of fraud, possession of a narcotic in high-profile drug investigation
A Nova Scotia doctor charged in connection with a high-profile drug investigation has been found not guilty of all charges against her.
Stan MacDonald, the lawyer for Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones, confirms a Bridgewater judge acquitted Jones of all counts on Friday.
Jones was facing charges of fraud, one charge of drawing a document without authority and one count of possession of a narcotic.
Police charged Jones in the spring of 2016, alleging she prescribed 50,000 oxycodone and OxyNeo pills over an 18-month period.
Judge Timothy Landry ruled earlier in her trial to exclude some evidence, including comments Jones made to the Nova Scotia College of Physicians, saying it was self-incriminating.
WATCH: Witness gasps at number of pills in drug-trafficking trial of Nova Scotia doctor
Charges of trafficking oxycodone and possession for the purpose of trafficking in relation to oxycodone were also originally laid against Jones.
The Crown made the decision to withdraw those charges mid-way through the trial in April, after reassessing their case and realizing there was uncertainty.
“After two days of evidence, hearing from four witnesses we realized we didn’t have a realistic prospect of conviction on proving that the drugs were not delivered to the alleged victim in this case,” Crown Josh Bryson said at the time.
Jessica Wolfe, a pharmacist at the Bridgewater Superstore, was one of the witnesses to testify at the trial.
She told the court Jones would sometimes call the pharmacy to see how many painkillers they had in store and write a prescription for that amount of pills.
Wolfe also testified that she notified the province’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program about the amount and dosage of painkillers Dr. Jones was prescribing to one patient, Merle Chase, but was reassured everything was fine.
Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said he had recieved a complaint against Jones in August 2015 and forwarded the information to police.
The college launched its own investigation and her licence to practice medical was suspended, but the probe was put on hold as the criminal process played out.
“She is suspended as our investigation is ongoing, and her suspension will remain in place until Dr. Jones is able to convince the investigation committee that the suspension need not be in place,” said Grant in an interview Friday.
Grant said a committee comprised of medical professionals and members of the public will conduct the college’s investigation.
He stressed that the questions that were asked by the court are different than the ones being asked by his organization.
“The question the college now has to ask is whether Dr. Jones’ care and treatment of this patient and her conduct was in keeping with the standard of the profession,” said Grant.
“We have to ask whether her conduct amounted to professional misconduct, whether her care amounted to incompetent care or whether her conduct amounted to conduct unbecoming a physician.”
Grant said there are a broad range of decisions the investigation committee could arrive at, including referring the matter to a public hearing.
-With files from The Canadian Press
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