With plenty of support in his corner a former Pauls Valley physician accused of writing fraudulent prescriptions to feed his own drug addiction now knows his fate.
The punishment proved to be less severe for Dr. William Dale Wright, 58, during a sentencing hearing in Garvin County District Court this week.
Wright was a cardiologist working in the then open hospital in PV when an undercover sting last year involving state and county officials caught him in the act of writing phony prescriptions for pain medications he then split with a second person.
Likely helping his own case Wright has since then completed a 31-day stay in an out-of-state drug treatment facility.
Pleading no contest to eight related felony charges, Wright was given what amounts to a seven-year deferred sentence with orders from a judge to attend AA meetings and complete a weekly outpatient drug treatment program.
Before that sentence was handed down Monday four supporters took the witness stand to offer praise to Wright for the care he provided as a doctor.
Among them was Dr. Tammy Jarvis of Pauls Valley, who worked with Wright and used him as a family doctor, former local dentist Dr. Mark Wilson and a couple of other former patients.
One was Sandra Lee Mott of Springer, who said Wright’s care for her husband’s heart condition was the very best.
“I honestly believe Dr. Wright gave me an extra 17, 18 years with my husband,” Mott said.
When asked to rate Dr. Wright as a physician, former patient Robert Barnes of Davis gave him a “10.”
“He saved my life a few times,” Barnes said.
During his time for closing arguments Garvin County Assistant District Attorney Corey Miner said the state has never pushed for Wright to get prison time.
What Miner claims is important is for Wright to have his medical license stripped so he can’t possibly practice medicine while under the influence of a substance.
“It’s clear Dr. Wright is a very gifted man,” Miner said to District Judge Leah Edwards. “He can hold a heart in his hands and fix the things that are wrong.
“He has done great things, but he can’t be allowed to practice medicine,” he argued adding that would be the case if Wright is formally convicted of the charges.
“We can’t take that chance. He’s proven time and time again that he’s either incapable or unwilling to overcome his drug abuse problem.
“This doctor is doing drug deals in the parking lot of a hospital. He cannot conquer the demons that drive him to drugs and alcohol.”
Wright’s defense attorney Robert Rennie Jr. of Pauls Valley said his client knows practicing medicine isn’t in his future.
“He is asking for probation with whatever rules the court places on him,” Rennie said.
“He realizes that he’ll never practice medicine again. We’re asking for some type of leniency. We’re asking that Mr. Wright be placed on probation and that he be given a second chance.”
Wright was given the seven-year deferred sentences for each of the eight counts to run concurrent with each other, along with some fines.