DA: Doctor disappears after fire burns clinic's records

April 9, 2010 9:03:23 PM PDT
Prosecutors have been striking out in their search for a doctor who has patient records they need. Now, a mysterious fire may have burned those documents.

At the Westbury Medical Clinic, cleanup crews are still at work.

Arson investigators with the Houston Fire Department say the blaze on South Willow Thursday morning appears suspicious. It started in a hallway, which we're told is unusual.

"Any time evidence might have been destroyed, that's a concern," Harris County Assistant District Attorney Natalie Tise said. "We can't say for sure that evidence was destroyed in this case. That remains to be seen."

Tise says the Harris County District Attorney's Office has served a subpoena at the clinic and at other locations, trying to get patient records of those by Dr. Howard Grant.

They've been trying to track him down since November when Tessie Thompson was charged with drug possession, she allegedly was a patient of Grant's. She's accused of possessing 100 grams of Hydrocodone. She had what she later claimed was a prescription, which authorities have still been unable to verify.

They can't find Grant to do so.

"We don't just take them at face value," Tise said.

This is not the first time someone has questioned Grant's prescription writing.

The Texas Medical Board filed a complaint against him last August, alleging among other things that "inappropriately signed blank prescription forms....aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of medicine....."

Grant, we've learned is also charged criminally in federal court. He and along 13 others are accused of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. They allegedly took part in an operation that billed $2.2 million to Medicare for equipment which allegedly was not medically necessary.

"You don't really expect that in your own neighborhood," Grant's neighbor, Andy Cox, said.

Cox says he witnessed the doctor's arrest on that charge last summer. He also says the doctor, who the district attorney's office says it hasn't been able to contact, lives in a high-priced Fort Bend County neighborhood. He says he saw him as recently as earlier today.

A woman at the house told us he wasn't there when ABC13 knocked on the door.

Neighbors say with all the trouble Dr. Grant has been through, the fire at his clinic sure seems suspicious.

"You would suspect some wrongdoing there," Cox said. "It doesn't seem to add up on paper, but I can't speak for that."

ABC 13 spoke with the attorney representing Dr. Grant in that federal fraud case. He said he knew nothing of the district attorney's attempts to contact his client and that he didn't know anything either about the fire at the clinic.

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