Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Pot Doctor Convicted, But...
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Pot Doctor Convicted, But Avoids Jail

Patrick Sullivan - September 9th, 2013  
Prosecution of Dr. Edward Harwell followed an ugly family lawsuit


A doctor who came out of retirement to run three medical marijuana clinics around Michigan -- including one in Cadillac -- pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges after police and prosecutors said he ran the clinics as forprofit certification mills.

Dr. Edward Harwell, 77, of Reed City, will not go to jail, but has lost his medical license in the state of Michigan.

Harwell’s attorney, Michael Cronkright, had hoped to get the charges dismissed altogether, but he said he was pleased with the resolution.

“Certainly, I don’t think that a doctor who served the community for five decades should be going to jail, so I think it’s a fair outcome,” Cronkright said.

Authorities in the case, which was prosecuted in Wexford County and investigated by the Traverse Narcotics Team, have said their main objective was to strip Harwell of his medical license, which allowed him to certify people for medical marijuana cards.

SON SUES FATHER

The respective sides portrayed Harwell as either a kindly doctor who came out of retirement to help people who needed marijuana to treat pain or as a greedy profiteer who saw in Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act a way to make a quick buck.

Trouble for Harwell followed an ugly lawsuit filed by his son and daughter-in-law over his marijuana certification clinics in Cadillac, Lansing and Ann Arbor.

Harwell’s son, Cameron Harwell, a Cadillac attorney, and his wife, Shelly, claim in the lawsuit that they researched the viability of a medical marijuana certification business, that Shelly Harwell spent six months setting up the business, and that Dr. Harwell took control of the clinics when he realized how profitable they were.

The lawsuit also charged that soon after taking over the clinics, Dr. Harwell instituted unsound business practices and failed to properly examine patients before he issued certifications.

“My wife and I set it up and then he came in and basically ran it the way he did,” Cameron Harwell said. “We had nothing to do with it.”

Edward Harwell, through his attorney Cronkright, denied all of the allegations and maintained that his medical practices were sound. In a court filing, Cronkright argued that Shelly Harwell, who was supposed to manage the Cadillac office, failed to perform her job.

CRIMINAL CASE FOLLOWED SUIT

The lawsuit, which seeks damages for violation of a partnership agreement, invasion of privacy, and business defamation, among other things, was filed in Wexford County on June 1, 2012.

The lawsuit detailed the claims from Cameron and Shelly Harwell that the older Harwell failed to properly examine patients and that when they confronted him with their concerns about how he ran the clinic, the doctor responded that “it was his ass on the line.”

Soon after, in August, the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced they were filing a civil complaint against Harwell and going after his medical license.

That was followed by a Traverse Narcotics Team investigation, which saw three undercover police officers visit Harwell’s clinic the following February posing as patients who suffered from headaches or neck aches and who lacked medical records.

THE DOCTOR FACED PRISON

Harwell was subsequently charged in two cases that contained several felony counts, including conspiracy and intentionally placing misleading information in a medical chart.

Harwell always denied the charges, and through Cronkright, argued that prosecutors never presented medical expert testimony that proved Harwell mishandled his patients’ charts.

At a preliminary hearing in March and April, the conspiracy charges, which were the most serious and carried up to five years in prison, were dismissed by a judge.

But the judge upheld the false medical information felony charges against Harwell and the case moved forward to trial.

IN THE END, FINED $575

Cronkright sought through a motion to have the remaining charges against his client dismissed in circuit court because, he argued, prosecutors never presented medical evidence to support the claim that Harwell put misleading information in medical files.

In trying to get the charges dismissed, Cronkright argued that Harwell never knowingly put false information in a patient’s file.

“While much of the information may in fact be lies told by the officer, there is no suggestion that Dr. Harwell was aware of the misleading nature of the information,” Cronkright wrote.

The undercover officers alleged Harwell only performed perfunctory exams and then added information to their medical charts beyond what they said during the visit.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac did not return a message seeking comment.

Cronkright’s motion was ultimately rejected by a judge, however. Harwell agreed to a plea deal that ended the case with a conviction, but no jail time or felony conviction.

Harwell pleaded guilty to two counts of recklessly putting information in patients’ medical charts on Aug. 23 and he was ordered to pay fines and costs of $575.

His license to practice medicine was suspended in Michigan as of July 17.

‘TOLD US TO POUND SAND’

The civil suit was put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, and now it will likely carry on. Neither side wanted to comment about what they expect would happen with the lawsuit.

The lawsuit describes a family that got together for a business venture, and then was torn apart by the business.

Harwell’s son said in the lawsuit that his father had been retired for 17 years when he contacted him about a medical marijuana business in April 2010. The elder Harwell agreed, and his son and daughter-in-law spent six months putting the businesses together while Dr. Harwell reestablished his Michigan medical license and moved back to the state from Florida.

The lawsuit said that gross receipts the first day that Dr. Harwell certified medical marijuana patients upon his return to Michigan were over $22,000; that one day in the first week he certified around 100 patients; and that Harwell soon became hostile and began to push his son and daughter-in-law out of the business.

Cameron Harwell claims his father acted out of greed: “He told us to pound sand,” he said in a phone interview.

In the lawsuit, the younger Harwells claimed that after they were forced out, the Cadillac medical marijuana clinic was run by a laid-off steelworker and an exotic dancer.

Cronkright said the lawsuit is frivolous. “In the big picture, the case has very little merit.” Cronkright said.

FAMILY REMAINS ESTRANGED

Cameron Harwell said he hasn’t spoken with his father in three years.

He said he didn’t want to comment about what he thought of how his father’s criminal case was resolved.

Cameron Harwell said he doesn’t believe the lawsuit he filed caused his father to be targeted by the attorney general, police and prosecutors. He said he believes there were numerous complaints to authorities from people who visited the clinics about his father’s practices before the lawsuit was filed.

 
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