Methadone clinic seeks return of state license

Posted Oct. 18, 2010, at 8:32 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The owner of a methadone clinic that was shut down by state and federal officials filed a rebuttal in Rockland District Court on Monday asking that the clinic’s licenses be reinstated until she can argue her case in court and refute allegations that she tried to trade methadone for cocaine.

Federal law enforcement officials closed Turning Tide methadone clinic in Rockland on Aug. 19, citing an unspecified threat to public health and safety.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency claims in court documents that the clinic owner, Angel Fuller McMahan, was making offers to trade methadone for cocaine, that she bought cocaine from clinic patients and that she employed at least one person with a drug conviction. The court papers also indicate that she broke an agree-ment she made as a convicted drug felon with the DEA that stipulated she would not enter the clinic building or order the methadone herself.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services then also temporarily pulled Fuller McMahan’s state license to operate the facility Sept. 7 based on the results of the federal investigation. The department filed a civil lawsuit later that month, asking for a judge to revoke permanently all licenses for Turning Tide methadone clinic.

In a response filed by her attorney Monday, Fuller McMahan called the allegations unproven. The attorney, Jay McCloskey of Bangor, wrote that he had requested a hearing before a federal judge to argue the DEA allegations, but the request was denied because Turning Tide no longer had state licenses. A methadone clinic needs federal and state licenses to operate.

This seems to have trapped the clinic in a Catch-22. The state revoked the clinic’s license because of the DEA’s allegations. But because the state revoked the clinic’s licenses, the federal law judge denied a hearing that would allow the clinic to dispute the DEA allegations, according to McCloskey.

In his response to the state’s civil suit, McCloskey wrote that the clinic would have to get state licenses to operate and then reapply for its federal licenses.

McCloskey asked that the state “restore [Turning Tide’s] opioid treatment program license and its adult substance abuse license until the court holds a hearing on the matter.”

Meanwhile, Fuller McMahan and a former clinic counselor also face felony drug charges.

Fuller McMahan was arrested July 13 after law enforcement agents witnessed her buying drugs in a New County Road parking lot and later found $2,500 worth of cocaine hidden in her pants and drug paraphernalia in her car, according to police.

A few days later, on July 16, clinic counselor Carol Gardiner of Thorndike was summoned for attempted possession of cocaine. Law enforcement officials said at the time that their investigation of Fuller McMahan revealed that some of the cocaine she purchased was intended for Gardiner.

A hearing on the civil lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 28 in Rockland District Court.

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