A springtime trial date has been set in the case of a 57-year-old Roachdale physician accused of unlawfully dispensing narcotics, often reportedly in exchange for sex.
Dr. Ray D. Howell, whose medical license has been suspended indefinitely by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, will face a jury trial before Judge Matthew Headley on May 23 in Putnam Circuit Court.
Howell, who has operated Tri-County Family Medical Clinic in Roachdale for more than 20 years, was arrested at his Heritage Lake residence on Oct. 18. He is facing 15 felony counts, including a dozen that involve the alleged unlawful or reckless dispensing of controlled substances.
A final pretrial conference in the case has been scheduled for May 3, Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said. An additional pretrial conference has been set for Feb. 21.
Dr. Howell 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 Howell's alleged reckless dispensing of narcotics and pain medication.
The investigation also yielded reports of several alleged sexual encounters with female patients to whom he had reportedly prescribed excessive doses of controlled substances.
At least 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 15 counts allege that the excessive amounts of controlled substances the doctor prescribed were ostensibly written "to facilitate sexual encounters."
Just days before his arrest, the Roachdale physician announced he was retiring from private medical practice, but that did not stop the Indiana Attorney General's Office from taking action against him.
On Oct. 27, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, acting on a petition from the Indiana Attorney General's Office, ordered Howell to stop practicing medicine.
"Dr. Howell is indefinitely summarily suspended until the outcome of the criminal proceedings or the board's final order -- whichever comes first," an Indiana Attorney General's Office spokesman stated.
Howell posted $2,000 cash bond following his arrest and brief incarceration at the Putnam County Jail.