The man behind one of the region’s most infamous pill mills wants to serve out the rest of his sentence in his native country.

David Herbert Procter, who once tried to flee to his native Canada before being sentenced on charges of conspiracy and drug trafficking, filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Ashland seeking to serve the remainder of an 11-year sentence in the neighboring nation.

Procter, who as a physician wrote prescriptions for cash at his South Shore medical practice, then, after losing his medical license, hired a string of doctors to do the work for him, claims he is developing health problems and would like to be closer to his relatives for the remainder of his sentence.

“The defendant was born and raised in Canada and dispite (sic) his lengthy career in the United States, he has substantial ties in Canada and desires to live out the remainder of his life in Canada as opposed to the United States,” Procter wrote in the motion, which he authored himself.

Procter claims the only thing keeping him from being transferred to his native country is his outstanding $250,000 fine, which was part of his federal sentence.

The former physician claims he has been paying $1,000 a month from his disability pension toward the fine since his sentence began in 2003 and has a balance of roughly $205,000 remaining.

Procter is not seeking a reduction in the fine but merely the court’s permission to be transferred to his native country with the fine outstanding. Procter claims he would keep the structure set forth by the court and continue to pay $1,000 a month to satisfy the fine.

Procter’s motion is under review by a federal judge.

Though he had been a practicing physician in South Shore since the 1980s, it was in 1996 that Procter turned his operation into a pill mill.

The doctor said he saw as many as 80 patients a day, charging $80 to $120 cash in exchange for writing prescriptions for narcotics.

The business created an atmosphere of terror in the small town of South Shore, as addicts flocked to Procter’s Plaza Healthcare to get their hands on prescriptions.

The crowds of drug users often overflowed from the small clinic out into the parking lot, where fights and property damage were frequent.

Pharmacies in the area were also subject to repeated break-ins.

Procter lost his medical license after suffering a brain injury in a car accident in 1999.

However, the former physician went on to hire at least a half dozen physicians to continue his work through 2002, when the operation was finally brought down by a federal investigation.

Almost all who worked for or with Procter have since been tried and convicted of trafficking or conspiracy charges.

Procter appeared at the 2002 trial of one of those doctors, Rodolfo Santos, in Greenup Circuit Court, taking the witness stand and admitting to running a prescriptions-for-cash operation.

Procter testified that Santos — who was eventually convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison — was told from the beginning the clinic was a pill mill and the more patients Santos saw, the more money he and Santos would make.

This court appearance came just days before Procter entered his own guilty plea in federal court.

Procter, with the help of a Portsmouth lawyer, tried to flee the country before his sentencing.

His eventual destination was the Cayman Islands, but the former physician was apprehended while trying to cross into Canada from Detroit.

BEN FIELDS can be reached at bfields@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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