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Martinsville internist under federal drug indictment committed suicide

Martinsville internist under federal drug indictment committed suicide

Dr. Vincent K. Jones was found on the day he was about to be served with warrants on seven counts of writing illegal opioid prescriptions.

Only $3 for 13 weeks

Dr. Vincent K. Jones, who was found unconscious as federal investigators were about to arrest him more than three months ago, committed suicide by overdosing on a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure.

“The cause [of death] was due to complications of metoprolol toxicity and the manner of death was suicide,” said Tracie Cooper, district administrator for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke. Those findings had been delayed until toxicology reports were completed.

Jones, a resident of Martinsville who was an internist with a family medical practice in Collinsville, had been indicted on seven counts after an investigation by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration that began in August 2017 showed Jones wrote 449 prescriptions for controlled substances to three employees of his Community Family Care in Collinsville.

The prescriptions, written between 2014 and 2019, amounted to 44,850 dosage units.

But the drug that killed Jones, metoprolol, is commonly called a beta-blocker and is used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, heart failure and angina or chest pain. It also goes by the brand names Lopressor and Toprol XL.

Suicide by an overdose of metoprolol is rare. A sample period from October 2011 until September 2012 from the Food and Drug Administration included more than 600,000 reports, with 26 cases of completed suicides involving metoprolol.

A report called “Virginia Violent Death Reporting System,” coordinated by Marc E. Leslie of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and published in 2009, listed only one completed suicide in Virginia by metoprolol from 2003 to 2006.

On May 1, Jones was prohibited by the Virginia Board of Medicine from writing prescriptions for Schedule II and III narcotics.

In July a federal search warrant was issued, and searches were conducted at Jones’ residence on Cardinal Lane in Martinsville and at Community Family Care. The warrants alleged there was probable cause to believe that Jones had been illegally distributing controlled substances and others were using his practice to distribute Schedule II and Schedule IV controlled substances (namely oxycodone and hydrocodone-acetaminophen and possibly others) and to commit health care fraud and wire fraud in violation of federal law.

On Sept. 23, at 8:30 a.m., a neighbor stated she saw Jones leave his home on Cardinal Lane. At 8:55 a.m. that neighbor observed several vehicles pull up and park on Cardinal Lane. Officers exited the vehicles and knocked on the door of Jones’ home.

According to the 911 log, at 11:29 a.m. Martinsville Police arrived at property Jones owned on Ruths Creek Road, in the Carver area. Additional law enforcement arrived at 12:15 p.m. At 12:43 p.m. an officer located an “unresponsive subject” later identified by United States Attorney Thomas Cullen to be Jones.

Cullen said a DEA agent acted promptly to administer emergency, life-saving care and called for medical transport.

The Fieldale-Collinsville Rescue Squad arrived at 12:53 p.m. and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. At 1:36 p.m. the unit arrived at Sovah Health-Martinsville Hospital with the patient.

The Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Jones died the following day, on Sept. 24, and an autopsy was performed on Sept. 25.

The United States Attorney’s Office dismissed the indictment against Jones on Oct. 9.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt

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