Crime & Courts

Shelby foot doctor, 20 others arrested in drug case

An investigation into complaints about physicians’ alleged aggressive prescribing practices has resulted in charges against a Shelby foot doctor, according to Cleveland County authorities.

The Sheriff’s Office said Dr. Steven Elliott Skorman was arrested Thursday at his office, Carolina Foot and Ankle, in the 100 block of Lee Street.

Skorman was charged with 19 counts of prescribing controlled substances without a legal medical purpose; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of counterfeit CD/DVD. He was jailed under $150,000 bond.

The investigation, funded with a federal grant aimed at curbing abuse of prescription medicine, has resulted in the arrests of 20 other people. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office said it is looking for eight more suspects.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Prescribed Epidemic, began in July, according to authorities. The Sheriff’s Office said it got help from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, along with several other local law enforcement agencies.

Authorities said they received complaints about several Shelby-area doctors but decided that only those against Skorman had merit. Investigators allege that Skorman prescribed strong narcotics in large doses to people with little or no need for the drugs.

Two undercover agents posing as patients said they went to Skorman’s office and were prescribed large quantities of painkillers – without having a need for the medication.

“Prescription drug abuse and misuse has become an epidemic in Cleveland County, as throughout the state,” Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said.

“Combating this problem takes more than law enforcement,” he added. “It takes everyone who takes, dispenses or prescribes these medicines.”