Investigators: Seattle doctor sentenced for drug crime

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by By CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on October 31, 2008 at 10:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 23 at 8:40 AM

Video: Dr. Keith Levitt walked out of the courthouse a free man

SEATTLE - A Seattle doctor was sentenced to three years probation today for helping himself to prescription drugs.

Dr. Keith Levitt walked out of the courthouse a free man. But the KING 5 Investigators have learned that his conduct may have continued even after he was caught.

Until earlier this year Levitt owned a Queen Anne skin care clinic called Regeneration. His drug use aroused suspicion from local pharmacists and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which later learned he was trading drugs with Seattle dentist Jacob Kerst. Kerst was also sentenced to probation earlier this month. Both have had drug problems for several years.

Levitt and Kerst met in the Washington Physicians Health Program, which is designed to monitor doctors with admitted drug problems. The WPHP would not comment on if or how it missed many months of hard-core drug use by two of its clients.

Instead of discipline for drug abuse, doctors can by referred for treatment to the WPHP by the Department of Health, which licenses physicians. It granted Levitt a license here in 1998, even though Maryland regulators suspended his license in 1992 for a drug conviction, and he later faced the same fate in Arizona for being high in the operating room.

The Investigators asked the Department of Health if it was a mistake to allow him to continue practicing in Washington state.

"Substance abuse is an illness," said Karen Jensen, assistant secretary for the state Department of Health. "And under our law, if an individual has entered a impaired provider program, such as WPHP then we do allow physicians to remain in practice, so long as there not putting patients at risk."

But the KING 5 Investigators have learned Levitt used drugs and may have continued to see patients after his most recent license suspension.

A visit to the Department of Health's Web site told Gina that Levitt's license was suspended. But she says she found that out only after he treated her at his Queen Anne clinic.

"I was angry," Gina said. "Makes me feel like I was misled. Going back to his prior history makes me wonder how he could get away with it."

When the KING 5 Investigators asked Levitt if he was still seeing patients on Queen Anne after his license was suspended, he said: "I have no comment."

Court records show Levitt admitted to using drugs as recently as January, well after he'd been contacted by DEA and state regulators.

Now that his criminal case has been settled, Levitt could try to get his license back again.

"It's entirely possible he will never practice medicine in the state of Washington again," Jensen said.

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