Louis Hampers: Bail for doc accused of prescription drug fraud set at $2.5 million

A federal court judge has set bail for Dr. Louis Hampers, the former head of the Children's Hospital ER who is accused of writing 654 phony prescriptions using several aliases and stolen identities, at $2.5 million.

The ruling came out of a detail-filled court hearing yesterday, at which a federal prosecutor asked that Hampers be held without bail until trial. Hampers's attorney argued for his release -- and won it.

Read U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty's ruling here.

But before Hampers can be released, the judge will hold another hearing to set the conditions of his bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway, who is prosecuting the case, has asked that Hampers be barred from contacting witnesses or employees of The Children's Hospital, and be required to continue drug treatment in a locked facility.

From Hegarty's ruling:

Family Ties: Defendant's ties to his family are strong. Although he is going through a divorce, his relationship with his wife is amicable, and he has a good relationship with his minor children. He appears to have strong extended family support. This factor weighs strongly in Defendant's favor. Financial Resources: Defendant has substantial financial resources. This factor weighs strongly in Defendant's favor.

But Holloway argued yesterday that Hampers's wealth was a reason to deny him bail, not grant it. Hampers's family owns a private jet capable of flying internationally, which Holloway said would make it easy for him to flee.

Hampers's parents, Constantine and Joyce, attended yesterday's hearing. His father is a retired doctor who made millions in the private dialysis business. His mother now owns a pair of upscale spas in Boston. Both are familiar with media scrutiny and controversy.

Hampers comes from a family of doctors. His father, Constantine, and two younger brothers also practice medicine. His mother, Joyce, is a fierce tax attorney who worked in the U.S. Department of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush. Now she owns a pair of upscale spas on Boston's tony Newbury Street that will exfoliate clients with mineral salts and then wrap them in caviar for $200.

Hampers grew up wealthy in New England. But his parents came from humble beginnings: According to several stories published in the Boston Globe, his father is the son of Greek immigrants and his mother was raised partly by her sharecropper grandparents in Indiana. The two married in 1964 and had Louis the following year. Constantine, known as Gus, was a doctor in Boston at the time, specializing in nephrology, the branch of medicine dealing with the kidneys. Dialysis, which can save the life of a patient with kidney failure, was new then -- and expensive.

In 1969, after seeing firsthand that many hospitals couldn't afford to treat all of their patients, the Globe reported that Constantine and a friend founded National Medical Care, a dialysis clinic with the idea to offer it cheaper to anyone who could pay.

The business made Constantine a millionaire -- but it also caused him myriad problems. A three-part New York Times series published in 1995 called "Death and Deficiency in Kidney Treatment" chronicles many of them. As early as 1983, the Times reported, National Medical Care's dialysis equipment was outdated and dangerous; the series also reported that some experts blamed the company for several patient deaths. According to the Times, National Medical Care was cited by the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s for manufacturing substandard new equipment; to resolve the case, the company entered into a consent decree with the government that required it to meet regulatory standards.

But, the Globe reported, the company also ran afoul of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General in 1995, which investigated it for overbilling, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged in 1998 that National Medical Care's parent company and seven top executives, including Constantine Hampers, manipulated its finances to make it look more profitable.

By then, Constantine had retired, and both cases have since been settled, the Globe reported; in the second, Constantine neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in agreeing to a cease-and-desist order.

Hampers's mother, Joyce Hampers, is no stranger to headlines and controversy herself. According to the Globe, in 1982, when she served as revenue commissioner for the state of Massachusetts, her department was involved in a bribery scandal, during which a deputy revenue commissioner hung himself. Joyce was never found to have been involved in any wrongdoing. In 1986, she ran for state treasurer in one of the nastiest races of the decade. The Globe reported that she described her opponent as an "entrenched political Neanderthal." When he shot back, the Globe wrote, she accused him of trying to portray her as a "bitchy witch."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar