Federal prosecutors have announced that no criminal charges will be filed in relation to Prince’s accidental drug overdose in April 2016. The Minnesota doctor who described opioid painkillers for Prince a week before his death, Michael T. Schulenberg, has agreed to a $30,000 settlement to civil charges of writing illegal prescriptions. Prince died after accidentally overdosing on fentanyl in his Paisley Park home on April 21st, 2016.
Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said to reporters that Prince believed he was taking Vicodin to manage his pain, but unintentionally took fake pills that contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. “Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,” Metz said. Law enforcement could not determine the source of the counterfeit Vicodin that killed Prince despite an “intensive investigation”, according to Metz.
Schulenberg denied any liability in Prince’s death, but violated the Controlled Substances Act when he illegally filed a prescription for Prince using a fake name, federal prosecutors said in official settlement documents obtained by reporters. “Dr. Schulenberg prescribed Schedule 2 controlled substances in the name of an individual knowing that the controlled substances were intended to be used by another individual,” U.S. Attorney Greg Brooker said. “As licensed professionals, doctors are held to a high level of accountability in their prescribing practices, especially when it comes to highly addictive painkillers.”
Schulenberg settled the civil charges for $30,000 and agreeing to submit to monitoring by the DEA.
“As Minnesota and the nation struggle in the throes of an opioid crisis, the Drug Enforcement Administration will always strive to ensure that those responsible will be held accountable, no matter what their position may be,” DEA Minneapolis-St. Paul Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Solek said. Dr. Schulenberg’s settlement “is neither an admission of facts nor liability” according to court records. Prosecutors also affirmed that Dr. Schulenberg is not a target of federal criminal investigation.
“Dr. Schulenberg decided to settle with the United States regarding alleged civil claims in order to avoid the expense, delay, and unknown outcome of litigation. He made no admission of facts nor liability and denies any such liability. The United States Attorneys’ Office for the District of Minnesota has confirmed that he is not a target in any criminal inquiry and there have been no allegations made by the government that Dr. Schulenberg had any role in Prince’s death,” Schulenberg’s attorney, Amy Conners, said in a statement to ABC News. “After he learned of Prince’s addiction, he immediately worked to refer Prince to a treatment facility and to transfer care to a chemical dependency specialist.”