Lots of new details emerged at a detention hearing today for Dr. Louis Hampers, the Children's Hospital ER doc arrested for fraudulently writing 654 prescriptions. Among them: that Hampers used the identity of a woman he paid for sex -- and the identities of her two minor children -- to pick up prescriptions. And that the 44-year-old doctor took all of the 20,000 pills he's accused of illegally obtaining himself, sometimes popping upwards of sixty Hydrocodone a day.
Today's hearing, which took place in federal court in Denver, was to determine whether Hampers would be allowed to bond out, or whether he would be held in custody until trial. Hampers appeared dressed in a yellow jailhouse jumpsuit with his wrists shackled. More than twenty reporters, lawyers and family members attended the hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway, who is prosecuting the case, argued that Hampers should be held. His prior restraining orders show he's a danger to the community, Holloway said, and his wealth -- Hampers' parents own a Gulfstream jet -- suggests he could easily flee. One of Hampers' attorneys, Craig Gillen of Atlanta, said neither of those things is true. "This is a case about addiction, plain and simple," Gillen said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty is expected to issue a written decision soon.
In arguing for detention, Holloway revealed some of the prosecution's evidence, which includes a surveillance video of Hampers picking up a phony prescription. In April, he said, Hampers went to a pharmacy to fill a prescription in the name of a child whose mother later became a confidential source for the government. Holloway described the woman as a dancer at a local club who Hampers also paid for sex.
Hampers allegedly brought a fake ID with the child's name and Hampers' picture on it. But that day, Holloway said, Hampers became nervous and abruptly left the pharmacy, leaving the fake ID behind. Then he contacted the woman and confessed to her that he'd been using her name and her children's names to pick up prescriptions.
In June, Holloway said, the woman tried to contact Hampers. But she couldn't get in touch with him because he was at a drug treatment center in Williamsburg, Virginia that specializes in health care professionals. (He was there from mid-May until his arrest on September 7.)
However, when Hampers came home for a week-long visit in August, he met up with the woman. Unaware that their conversation was being videotaped, Hampers told the woman that his situation was "pretty ugly." He estimated that he'd written 1,000 phony prescriptions over the past three years and then picked them up using aliases and fake IDs he made. He said he knew the DEA was coming for him and he was "screwed."
"I'm going to have huge charges on me," he told the woman, according to Holloway.
He also told the woman that he'd never sold the drugs to anyone else, Holloway said. He said he'd taken them all himself, which he admitted might seem impossible.
Hampers asked the woman to lie to the police about their relationship, Holloway said. He told her he didn't want prosecutors to know that he'd paid her for sex or that he'd used an escort to pick up some prescriptions. He suggested they tell the police that they were having an affair and he had helped her by writing some prescriptions for her children because they didn't have a primary care doctor.
According to Holloway, Hampers also asked the woman to lie to the police about his whereabouts. If they ask you where I am, he said, tell them you don't know.
Holloway painted Hampers as a flight risk because of his family's wealth, which he called "extraordinary." Hampers' father, Constantine, who is also a doctor, founded a kidney dialysis company that made him a millionaire. His mother, Joyce, is an attorney who worked for the first Bush administration and now owns a pair of upscale salons in Boston. Both were in the courtroom today. The family's money is kept in a trust, Holloway said, and the trust owns a Gulfstream V business jet that is capable of flying internationally.
Furthermore, he said Hampers is a danger to his former employer, The Children's Hospital in Aurora. In late 2009, Holloway said the hospital reported that Hampers' began having altercations with staff members that made them feel threatened. If Hampers is released on bond, Holloway said, Children's will seek a restraining order against him.
Hampers is also a danger to two women who have already sought restraining orders against him, Holloway said, including 9News investigative reporter Deborah Sherman, who is also suing Hampers in civil court, and a woman from Colorado Springs named Sandy Ebersohl.
Hampers' attorney, Gillen, poked holes in Holloway's arguments.
He portrayed Ebersohl as crazy and said he has evidence that over the past seventeen years, she's been involved in more than twenty restraining orders using a different name, Sandy Sward. When Hampers was in Virginia, Ebersohl called him repeatedly, Gillen said, and left him voicemails warning him about the investigation and asking him to call her back. If Ebersohl was afraid of Hampers, why would she want him to call her? he asked.
Gillen also argued that Hampers is not a flight risk. When he caught wind of the DEA investigation, Gillen stated, "did Dr. Hampers say, 'Let me get on the family Gulfstream and fly to Europe?' No." Instead, he sought help through the Colorado Physician Health Program, which referred him to the treatment center in Virginia.
"Dr. Hampers wasn't hiding out in Virginia in some Groucho Marx disguise," Gillen said.
As for Hampers's taped conversation with the confidential source, Gillen said it was the woman who contacted Hampers, not the other way around. The important part of that conversation, he maintained, is that Hampers said he never sold the drugs.
"It vividly says, 'I used them all. They were for me,'" Gillen pointed out.
But when the judge asked Holloway for his theory on what Hampers did with the pills, Holloway said it's his suspicion that Hampers exchanged the drugs for sex.
Gillen asked that Hampers be released on the condition that he put up as bond one of two houses he owns through his family's trust. Once released, Gillen asked that Hampers be allowed to return to Virginia to finish his drug treatment. Hampers voluntarily forfeited his Colorado medical license and can no longer write prescriptions, which Gillen said makes him harmless. "The power of his pen has been taken away," Gillen said.
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Even if Hampers is released, he'll likely be arrested again. He's wanted on at least two warrants out of the Denver Police Department for harassment and witness tampering related to his prior restraining order cases.
Throughout the hearing, Judge Hegarty asked questions of both sides, probing for more information on subjects such as the drugs Hampers was allegedly taking and how often Hampers sees his two children, who live with his soon-to-be ex-wife. (Both Hampers's and his wife's divorce attorneys attended the hearing.)
Though Hegarty gave no solid indication of which way he would rule, he called Hampers "someone who would be leaving a substantial life behind if he fled" and said he's not inclined to detain someone who has no prior convictions.
"But he's already facing a degradation of that life," Holloway argued.