After Drug Theft Arrest, Potsdam Doctor's Troubling History Surf

After Drug Theft Arrest, Potsdam Doctor's Troubling History Surfaces

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Potsdam police charged Dr. Richard Wessel with stealing patients' painkillers and drug possession on Tuesday. He was served with those charges at Canton-Potsdam Hospital medical offices.

“Similar stories with multiple patients. After their appointments, they determined there were pills missing from the prescriptions they were instructed by Dr. Wessel to bring to their appointment,” said Lieutenant Michael Ames, Potsdam Police Department.

It's not the first time the Canton-Potsdam Hospital cardiologist has run into trouble.

In 1999 in North Carolina, the state medical board found he drank and then inserted a temporary pacemaker in a patient. When he was ordered to take a blood test he swapped a patient's blood for his own. He surrendered his license and then had it restored.

In 2004, the North Carolina Medical Board found he had a history of drug use and he again surrendered his license. He had written fake prescriptions for a painkiller and tested positive for both the painkiller and cocaine. His license was fully restored in 2008.

After Tuesday's arrest, his medical license may be headed for further trouble.

“We've spoken to both the Department of Health and the attorney general's office, so there's going to be further follow on action that comes after the criminal charges have been levied,” said Ames.

We usually associate drug charges with street crime. But Dr. Wessel was served with his drug possession charge in medical offices. It shows how the opiate crisis is affecting people of all ranks in all parts of our society.

“Addiction doesn't discriminate. It's something we're seeing more and more of today,” said Ames.

Canton-Potsdam Hospital would not comment on Dr. Wessel's status there on Wednesday, saying it can't comment on personnel matters. However, his profile on the hospital's Web site was available there in the morning but not in the afternoon.

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