Weston doctor pleads guilty to drug charges

(Editor’s note: This article by Chris Mays was published in the Brattleboro Reformer on Jan. 3, 2017.)

BRATTLEBORO — A local doctor is looking to put the past behind her.

There will be no trial for Melanie Canon, 49, of Weston, after she pleaded guilty to two prescription-fraud charges and one count of narcotics possession in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Tuesday.

“So you’re agreeing that you did in fact obtain or attempt to obtain medication or drugs that were narcotic drugs, regulated drugs, through misrepresentation essentially on Nov. 16, 2015 and Jan. 4, 2016?” Judge Katherine Hayes asked Canon.

“Yes,” said Canon.

Defense attorney Brian R. Marsicovetere said Canon used a prescription pad, which came from a clinic where Canon was no longer working, to get Oxycodone pills.

Canon had been employed at Mountain Valley Medical Clinic in Londonderry. Upset patients had met with the clinic’s board of directors in July 2015 after not being provided with details about Canon’s dismissal. The clinic is an independent organization governed by a board of directors. No board member could comment on personnel issues, Board Chairman Chuck Sweetman said in a previous interview.

Deputy State’s Attorney Steven Brown said the case was the result of a joint investigation between the Vermont State Police and Drug Enforcement Administration. The federal agency was involved due to Canon’s medical license.

Canon allegedly diverted or falsely prescribed more than 1,200 Oxycodone tablets for her own use, according to police. Oxycodone is a strong opioid pain reliever and regulated drug in Vermont.

“The plea agreement before the court is in line with similarly situated defendants who came through here in the medical field,” Brown said. “This is her first contact in the criminal justice system. It is largely rehabilitative in nature.”

Canon will serve four years on probation. Currently, she does not have a license to practice medicine in Vermont.

There was no evidence suggesting that Canon was selling the drugs, Brown told Hayes.

“We didn’t uncover any sort of injuries to people,” Brown said. “So the state thinks this is an appropriate sentence. We’re hopeful we won’t see her back here.”

Canon told Hayes she had exercised poor judgement and has stopped using drugs. Canon said she plans to reapply for her license in New York, where she had practiced medicine for 20 years before moving to Vermont three years ago.

“It didn’t really work out for me in Vermont,” she said. “I left New York to come here for my daughter. We lived in East Harlem, in the ghetto. As she got a little bit older, I thought it would be better for her to have some country to grow up in. But I had a tough time up here so I look forward to going back home and resuming the work I left.”

Canon said she previously held primary care jobs in underserved areas.

“Most of the folks I see engage in this kind of conduct are actually struggling with a pretty serious disease of addiction and I don’t know if you label yourself that way or not,” Hayes told Canon. “If you do, then I hope you’re getting help with that.”

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