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Home » News » Crime

May 20. 2014 10:22PM

Pain care clinic founder, of Somersworth, faces witness tampering charge

DOVER — The CEO of a statewide chain of pain care clinics is under indictment for witness tampering, accused of trying to get two women to contact investigators with the State Board of Medicine, one to deny she had an intimate relationship with him and the other to recant statements she made.

Michael O’Connell, 60, of 255 Route 108, Somersworth, surrendered his license to practice medicine in January 2012. According to a settlement agreement with the State Board of Medicine, O’Connell was accused of engaging in inappropriate relationships with two former patients.

In reaching the settlement, O’Connell admitted no wrongdoing.

“We are very surprised and disappointed by these charges against Dr. O’Connell,” said attorney William E. Christie of Concord in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, the investigation by the county attorney’s office was infected by individuals hostile to Dr. O’Connell for personal and financial reasons. We believe that the grand jury did not understand the facts or the law and we are confident that Dr. O’Connell will be fully vindicated at trial this summer.”

According to the indictments issued Thursday by a Strafford County grand jury and made public Tuesday, in December 2010 O’Connell asked a 24-year-old woman to contact state board investigators and deny they were engaged in an intimate relationship as alleged in a letter of complaint filed with the state board.

In August 2011, O’Connell allegedly contacted a 38-year-old woman, asking her to contact state board investigators and recant statements she made during the investigation.

According to the settlement agreement, O’Connell began treating one patient in 2001 for pain resulting from an automobile accident. Once treatment ended, they began a romantic relationship.

The second woman was treated at O’Connell’s practice for opioid addiction, primarily, initially by other physicians. In April 2007, she saw O’Connell for an office visit for the first time. After several appointments with him, she transferred to another provider and sometime later the two began a romantic relationship.

Under the settlement, O’Connell agreed to the permanent voluntary surrender of his license to practice medicine in New Hampshire.

O’Connell is the CEO of Dr. O’Connell’s Pain Care Centers Inc., doing business as PainCare, formerly Northeast Pain Consultation and Management Inc., which he founded in 1992 and which now has 12 locations across New Hampshire, according to the company’s website.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire and his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School. He interned at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and served honorably for seven years in the U.S. Army, which included residency training at the Presidio of San Francisco.

Each felony witness tampering charge carries a 3½- to 7-year prison sentence on conviction.

pgrossmith@unionleader.com


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