'Doctor shopping' to get meds is fraud
"Doctor shopping" was one topic of discussion at the meeting of the Carlton County TRIAD group, which took place at the Kettle River Snowmobile Club building on Wednesday, April 2.
Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake told the group that people who are addicted to pain killers go to doctors in the area and ask for prescriptions for pain medications because of a heart condition or another ailment.
“One person went to 20 hospitals and clinics, from the Iron Range to Moose Lake,” she added. “He went to the emergency room and gave them a name that he made up. Or sometimes they change their Social Security number. One patient was transferred to Duluth with a supposed heart attack.
“We charge them with fraud. Those costs add up. One case can add up to $10,000 pretty fast. Over time, it adds up to millions.”
Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm reported that a student from the Moose Lake school had been cited for possession of marijuana the week before.
The K-9 officer, Raja, was brought from the Cloquet Police Department and sniffed the lockers in the school on Monday, March 31. There were no hits.
Sheriff Lake said the dog had conducted that same search in the Cromwell High School not long ago. There were also no hits.
“We conduct these searches after we receive requests from the schools to keep the kids on their toes,” she said.
Heroin addiction is causing many of the crimes in the local area, the law enforcement officers told the group.
“A huge percentage of our jail population is there because of drugs or crimes committed to get money for drugs,” said Sheriff Lake. “We always see an increase in residential burglaries in the spring. They may try to call first to see if anyone is home. Watch for suspicious vehicles. Call 911 to report any unusual activity in your neighborhood.”
Chief Bogenholm spoke about methadone, a drug used to wean people off of heroin.
“People are selling it,” he said. “It is gold to them. They use other drugs to get the same effect. If it gets to the point where the person has to take it every day, they have to go to the methadone clinic every day and take the drug in front of the staff. It is supposed to be ingested but people use needles to get it into their bloodstreams faster.
“The casino has brought a lot of good to the area, such as jobs, but it has also brought a lot of bad. Twenty years ago we never saw the drugs that we do now, daily.”
Chief Bogenholm also reported there have been many calls that his officers have to answer at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility.
“They have the federal lawsuit going, and the judge agrees that something should be done,” he said. “They all think that they should be able to get out. There are a lot of frustrated people there. They spit on the guards and assault the workers. We’ve been there quite a few times.”
“Then we get them in our jail,” said Sheriff Lake. “They have to be separated from the other inmates. That’s hard to do with our limited space.”
Sheriff Lake went on to talk about the number of females incarcerated in the jail.
“There used to be two females at a time,” she said. “Now it is up to 11. Our jail has a capacity of 48. It was built in 1989, and it is nearing the end of its life cycle. The Carlton County Justice Partners are talking about the future of the jail. Our physical plant will not last forever.
“We aren’t boarding out as many inmates as we have in the past but there will be an increase during the summer. Public safety costs money. We want to hold people accountable.”
Sheriff Lake encouraged people to call 911 with information about anyone they suspect is using drugs.
“Sometimes we have to gather a lot of information about someone before we can arrest them,” she added. “We gather the information and use it with other information until we have enough information to arrest them. Sometimes it takes months.”
Chief Bogenholm reported a new scam. He said he received a call from a woman claiming to have found his father’s cell phone in a restaurant. She wanted him to send her $50 so she would return the phone to him.
“I had just received a text from my dad a minute before,” he said. “It’s a new thing going around as a smartphone app. Be aware.”
Sheriff Lake said other people are getting emails from a shipping company saying the person had missed a delivery. The scammer is trying to get personal information.
She advised people to contact the shipping company directly, not give information on the phone, if they think they actually did miss a delivery.
The next meeting of the TRIAD group is set for Wednesday, May 7, tentatively at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center near Cloquet at 10 a.m.