Doctor in retaliation case accused of perjury

July 6, 2011 7:27:26 PM PDT
A doctor at the center of a retaliation case that cost a West Texas sheriff his job has been accused of aggravated perjury for testimony he gave during the trial of a whistle-blowing nurse.

The Andrews County grand jury indicted Dr. Rolando Arafiles on June 30 on a single count. The indictment accused Arafiles of lying under oath when he denied knowing how Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts, a friend, obtained names and contact information of patients for questioning about who complained about Arafiles.

Roberts lost his job and was sentenced to 100 days in jail after a Midland County jury found him guilty last month of retaliating against the two whistle-blowing nurses, Anne Mitchell and Vicki Galle. Mitchell was tried but acquitted in Andrews County of misusing official information; similar charges against Galle were dropped.

Arafiles' attorney, Albert Valadez of Fort Stockton, says he expects his client to be acquitted. "I feel we'll be able to prove to a jury that there is no validity behind those charges," he said.

Arafiles also has been charged with two counts each of two counts of misuse of official information and retaliation. Winkler County Attorney Scott Tidwell awaits trial on two counts of misuse of official information, two counts of retaliation and two counts of official oppression.

Investigators contend that Arafiles approached his close friend Roberts, who was also a patient, after the Texas Medical Board contacted the doctor about the complaint. Arafiles asked his friend to help him find out who filed the complaint and Roberts used his authority to get a copy, investigators said.

Arafiles and other officials were then able to determine the identities of those who filed the complaint -- names that would have been protected from disclosure if law enforcement officials had not misused their position to obtain confidential information, the Texas attorney general's office said.

Among the nurses' complaints in their unsigned April 2009 letter to the medical board were that Arafiles improperly encouraged patients to buy herbal medicines from him and had wanted to use hospital supplies to perform a procedure at a patient's home.

Arafiles, licensed in Texas since 1998, has said the nurses' letter to the board was intended to harm him personally.

The women sued the county and accepted a $750,000 settlement after they were cleared.

The medical board technically suspended Arafiles in February but said he could continue to practice medicine while on probation for four years if he completed additional training. The Odessa American reports he is now practicing medicine at Cozby-Germany Hospital in the East Texas town of Grand Saline.

The board also said Arafiles must be monitored by another physician and submit patient medical and billing records for review. The monitor will report his or her findings back to the board.

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