Dr. Howell, who was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his Heritage Lake home, is facing 12 counts of unlawful dispensation of a controlled substance and three counts of furnishing false fraudulent information.
Dr. Howell advised Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matthew L. Headley that he will hire his own legal counsel.
Judge Headley set bond at $20,000, allowing the 57-year-old Howell to post 10 percent to affect his release from the Putnam County Jail Wednesday.
The judge also set a pretrial conference in the case for 10 a.m. Dec. 8.
Howell's arrest culminated a more than two-year investigation by local, state and federal authorities into his alleged reckless dispensing of narcotics and pain medication.
The investigation also yielded several incidents of alleged sexual encounters with a number of female patients to whom he had reportedly prescribed excessive doses of controlled substances.
Howell, the owner and sole practitioner of Tri-County Family Medical Clinic in Roachdale for more than 20 years, ran a classified advertisement earlier this week in the Banner Graphic, indicating he has retired, effective Sept. 30. He also has reportedly posted a sign to that effect at his office.
Nine female patients were interviewed by investigators, and six reported unwanted sexual advances or actual sexual acts allegedly occurring with Dr. Howell as a result of their visits to his office at 407 E. Forest Home Ave.
At least three of those counts allege that the excessive amounts of controlled substances the doctor prescribed were ostensibly written "to facilitate sexual encounters."
A number of patients told authorities that because of the excessive doses of medication, they felt "like a walking zombie" or they realized they were "not coherent for a while."
A former nurse, who was terminated after she stole prescription pads from Howell's office, said she continued to receive treatment and medication from the doctor. She informed investigators that "attractive females" could get as many as 500 pills per prescription from the doctor.
An investigation into possible criminal activity by the doctor began in 2009 after pharmacists from Connersville, Danville and Crawfordsville expressed concern that Dr. Howell was writing prescriptions for "unusually large quantities of controlled substances," the probable cause affidavit filed in Putnam Circuit Court notes.
One red flag for pharmacists was that Howell had a number of patients traveling great distances to obtain prescriptions -- some from as far away as Richmond, Hagerstown and Connersville, all more than 100 miles from Roachdale.
The Indianapolis District Office of the U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led the lengthy investigation in cooperation with Indiana State Police and the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office. At one point early in the investigation a female uncover State Police officer posed as a patient and obtained controlled substances for obesity issues although she was not the lease bit overweight, officials noted.
The drugs allegedly over-prescribed or unnecessarily prescribed by Howell as outlined in the 12 felony counts include Oxycodone, Methodone, Adipex, Clonazepam, Lortab, Vicodin, Alprazolam, Xanax, Percocet and Hydrocodone.
Although no specific charges have been filed involving the deaths of any patients treated by Dr. Howell, the probable cause affidavit details four occasions in which patients died within days of receiving controlled substances from the doctor.
Three of those involved Fayette County patients, while the fourth was a Franklin County patient who died of an overdose of hydro-codone.