Editor's note: The doctor charged has a history of legal and medical problems.
A Millersville doctor wrote prescriptions for addictive drugs for $175 per visit, while "coaching" patients through conversations and referring them to a Lancaster County pharmacy, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Patients from as far as West Virginia, New Jersey and Baltimore made the drive to Dr. Robert Simon Mathews' 232 Manor Ave. office, according to the affidavit.
Mathews, 83, was charged with 14 felony counts of unlawful prescription of controlled substances for continuously prescribing drugs like Xanax, Adderall and Subutex, according to office of state Attorney General Josh Shaprio, whose office filed the charges.
Mathews was committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $1 million bail.
In the 21-page affidavit of probable cause, investigators detailed short office visits — usually lasting 10 to 15 minutes — explaining how Mathews coached patients into saying the words that would get them the prescription.
Former patients characterized his office as a "pill mill," according to the attorney general's office.
During one 2020 visit with an undercover agent posing as a patient, Mathews even wrote "narcolepsy" at the bottom of the prescription to remind the agent what to say if asked about the diagnosis, officials said in the affidavit.
On another occasion, later in 2020, the doctor's wife was handing out urine cups to all the patients in the waiting room, including patients who said they traveled from West Virginia and New Jersey, according to the affidavit.
A patient even recalled a situation four months earlier where a woman dumped the contents of her purse on the floor and was "bugging out" in the waiting room.
Investigators say Mathews falsified paperwork for the prescriptions and often never tested urine samples, meant to show if the patients were actually using the prescriptions or not.
When it came to paying for the visits, there was only one option: cash, according to investigators.
Mathews charged $175 per visit and "insurance is not an option," one former patient told investigators.
When it came to filling the prescription, Mathews had a favorite pharmacy to funnel patients to, as well, according to the affidavit.
Mathews told one patient to go to CVS if they wanted to be "treated mean and talked down to," according to the affidavit, after asking them if they've been to prison before. He then recommended another Lancaster County pharmacy, and handed over a business card for the pharmacy.
Investigators did not name the pharmacy.
The pharmacist took $300 cash and told the patient that "he was giving (them) a really good deal," according to the affidavit. The pharmacist even gave 62 Adderall pills instead of the prescription's amount of 60, after the patient told them that they owed someone some pills.
One patient who worked with the attorney general's office told investigators that she considered Mathews a "legal drug dealer," according to the affidavit. He "was an easy doctor to get pills from," she said.
In the early months of meeting with the doctor, the woman asked if she could be prescribed Xanax, and Mathews' wife said, "We don't prescribe that," she told investigators. When his wife left, the doctor said, "Shhh," and wrote a prescription for the pills, commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorder, according to the affidavit.
Mathews even gave her $25 off a visit for referrals, she told investigators.
The woman told police that she and her boyfriend (both 31 years old) would sell their prescriptions shortly after filling them, usually selling each pill for $20 to $30, according to the affidavit. The couple would then go to Baltimore and use that money for heroin.
Even after serving seven months in jail, the woman was able to go back to Mathews after she was free and get a prescription for Subutex, Xanax and Adderall, she told police. In March 2020, while the woman was in prison, her boyfriend was able to get a prescription from Mathews in her name, she said.
The attorney general's office had a medical review expert review six cases from Mathews' patients who were all prescribed monthly prescriptions of "high-dose, high-quantity" drugs without explanation for the doses, according to the review.
All six patients had a "fictitious diagnosis of narcolepsy," the review said, noting that narcolepsy is found in 1 in 2,000 to 3,000 patients.
Mathews told police he only accepts cash because "these people are in a maintenance program, they are trying to get back to work, they can't get insurance," according to the affidavit. He said he's been charging cash since he became licensed in 1973.
This isn't Mathews' first time being accused of prescribing drugs without a proper examination, according to newspaper records.
In 2012, Mathews was disciplined by the state medical board for having sex with a woman he was treating and prescribing her drugs without a proper examination.
At the time, he was working in Susquehanna County as an orthopedic surgeon at Barnes-Kasson Hospital.
Instead of a two-year suspension of his license, he was sentenced to probation and 30 hours of remedial education, had to comply with laws and agree to one year of supervision of his practice, according to newspaper records.
Mathews' preliminary arraignment was held on Tuesday, July 20, in front of District Judge Joshua Keller.
No update on his case was made as of Tuesday afternoon, and no lawyer was listed for Mathews. A phone number associated with his Millersville office was disconnected.