As we anticipated a short while ago, the operators of the now-closed private methadone clinic, the "Green Dragonfly," which is under investigation for its involvement in the death of Lindenhurst resident Steven Vaughn from a drug overdose, has thrown their former medical director, Lake County Coroner Richard Keller, under the bus.
Keller is also under investigation for allegedly not following proper procedures in the events that may have lead to Vaughn's death from a methadone overdose (Vaughn was also taking Xanax when Keller prescribed the methadone), and he recently resigned as the clinic's medical director, though he vowed not to resign as coroner. Just before this story broke, Keller announced that he would not run for coroner again, despite just having won re-election. Keller claimed he was tired of politics and fundraising, but it wasn't hard to suspect something else was behind his decision.
Now, of course, the story of the investigation is out, and Keller admitted the investigation led him not to run again. You may recall that last week, the Chicago Tribune quoted the clinic owners' as follows:
"All along, Green Dragonfly has relied on the medical advice of Dr. Keller, who is also the Lake County coroner," the clinic said in a prepared statement. "As we continue to investigate the tragedy of the death of Mr. Vaughn, we will hold accountable the failure of anyone to follow the law and proper procedures."
Sounded ominous to us. Today, however, the News-Sun has the big story, and it quotes one of the clinic owners, Mary Olloway (not the one who also owns a Wisconsin strip club), who told the newspaper Keller spread himself too thin trying to do both jobs. "I think he dropped the ball, and we're all suffering for it," Olloway said.
Olloway also told the News-Sun that Keller put in around three hours a day (15 hours a week) at the clinic, for which he was paid $70,000 a year (which is the glaring main headline in this morning's print edition). This, of course, is on top of his salary as Lake County Coroner (around $100,000/yr), which is supposed to be a full time job.
Olloway hired Keller, whom she previously knew as a family friend, as medical director of the clinic in October 2008. The position, which paid about $70,000 a year, required him to work around three hours a day, Olloway said. [snip]
Now, as the clinic prepares to shut its doors later this week, Olloway said she's unhappy with the way Keller has handled the situation.
"He goes back to his regular life (as coroner) and we're left standing here," Olloway said, while fighting back tears. "His intentions hopefully were right in the beginning, but where is he now?"
Fabulous. The News-Sun called for Keller's resignation back on August 17, but Keller made no moves to do so.
And, of course, we'd like to keep reminding everyone that the Lake County Democrats, led by State Senator Terry Link, loudly claimed this is all political persecution. Of course, the last time the notoriously thin-skinned Link used that excuse was when his petition scandal broke, and he claimed that the allegations of dead people's signatures appearing on his election petition was all concocted by 'Republican operatives.' We all know how that turned out.
The Dems have been quite silent lately, though.
UPDATED 9:25 p.m.: Here's an odd story related to the Green Dragonfly clinic that popped up on the Daily Herald website late this afternoon:
A Lake Villa Township man denied Wednesday he gave a friend a bottle of methadone dispensed by a besieged Waukegan clinic.
Jeffrey Ranalli, 23, is charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance for passing along methadone he was prescribed at The Green Dragonfly clinic. [snip]
Assistant State's Attorney Steven Derue said the case against Ranalli began last month when Round Lake Beach police served a search warrant at a house in that community.
A resident of the house, who is not being identified because he has yet to be charged with any crime, was found to be in possession of three bottles of methadone, Derue said.
Ranalli's name was on each bottle, Derue said, and the man told police he had been given the drug used to treat heroin addiction by Ranalli.
Police interviewed Ranalli, who said he told them he had received three bottles of the drug at The Green Dragonfly every Sunday for the past three to four months. Ranalli told police he routinely took two of the three doses himself, Derue said, and gave the third to friends "whenever they were sick."
I would imagine this kind of stuff unfortunately happens all too often, and it's questionable whether Dr. Keller is at fault somehow here (was the amount given more than any individual would be expected to use personally...? I have no clue...), but it sure don't help his situation.