The 57-year-old doctor, who has operated Tri-County Family Medical Clinic in Roachdale for more than 20 years, was arrested Oct. 18 on 15 felony counts. A dozen of those involved the alleged unlawful or reckless dispensing of controlled substances.
Dr. Howell has posted $2,000 cash bond and will appear in Putnam County Court at 10 a.m. Dec. 8 for a pretrial conference.
However, possibly as early as this Thursday, Indiana Attorney General Gregory F. Zoeller hopes to have Dr. Howell's Indiana medical license suspended for 90 days.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Minglin has filed a petition with the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana to that effect. It requests that the board set a hearing on the petition for summary suspension and suspend Dr. Howell's license "for a period of 90 days and for all other proper relief," the petition states.
"Generally speaking," said Erin Reece, public information officer for the Indiana Attorney General's Office, "an emergency suspension allows us to pursue our investigation while preventing an individual from practicing.
"The results of an investigation determine if our office files an administrative complaint with the appropriate board," she explained. "The board determines whether any violation occurred -- and if so, what disciplinary action to impose."
The next time the licensing board meets and could consider the petition for summary suspension is this Thursday in the Indiana Government Center South Building at Indianapolis. If it is not addressed then, the board's next meeting would not be until Dec. 1.
"Because this is a licensing case, we cannot disclose information beyond what is given in the Petition for Summary Suspension," Reece told the Banner Graphic.
Dr. Howell ran an advertisement in the Banner Graphic classified pages on Oct. 17, indicating he has retired, effective Sept. 30. He also has reportedly posted a sign to that effect at his Roachdale office.
Howell, who resides at Heritage Lake, is being represented by attorney Dennis E. Zahn of the Indianapolis law firm Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan and Merriman.
The doctor'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 reports of several incidents of alleged sexual encounters with a number of female patients to whom he had reportedly prescribed excessive doses of controlled substances.
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."