Local physician arrested for dealing controlled substances


Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney D.J. Sigler, in conjunction with the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Office of Attorney General, Indiana State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration, announced today that Dr. James E. Hanus, a family practice physician with offices in South Whitley, Indiana, has surrendered to authorities in Whitley County. He was taken into custody without incident and was released after posting a $100,000 cash bond.

Hanus was charged with six felonies: two counts of Dealing in a Schedule II Controlled Substance, class B felonies; two counts of Dealing in a Schedule II Controlled Substance, Level 2 felonies; and two counts of Dealing in a Controlled Substance by a Practitioner, Level 4 felonies. The charges allege that between August 2012 and October 2016, Hanus dealt substantial sums of controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.

Schedule II controlled substances are drugs that are considered to have a high potential for abuse or addiction. They include drugs like methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycontin, and fentanyl.

The arrest follows an investigation of more than two and one-half years. Investigators from the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, ISP, Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud unit and DEA participated in extensive surveillance and undercover operations during that period. In October 2016, law enforcement officials applied for, obtained and executed a search warrant at his home and office. At that time, Hanus voluntarily surrendered his federal registration that allows practicing physicians to prescribe controlled substances.

Sigler thanked Attorney General Curtis Hill, the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, and the agents, diversion investigators and intelligence analysists with the DEA. “This is a tremendous example of teamwork and turning generations of families into addicts, every effort must be made to ensure that our medical caregivers are operating with the bounds of the law.”

The prosecutor was also careful to point out that the charges at this point remain unproven allegations. As with any alleged crime, he said, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Class B felonies carry a potential sentence of between 6-20 years, while Level 2 felonies carry a sentence of between 10-30 years. Level 4 felonies have a sentencing range of 2-12 years.

Hanus will have an initial hearing on Monday, July 31, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the Whitley County Courthouse.


  1. Methadone – useful for helping treat Opioid addiction, but also highly addictive itself.
    Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl all Opioids used mostly for pain relief, of which most people suffer at some point in their life. They are cheap, very effectively, and unfortunately extremely addictive when taken for prolonged periods, though some reports suggest a single use can create an addict. Anyone can be a ‘one time’ use addict – anything that releases serotonin in one big batch can do it; serotonin is at least part of the mechanism that provides happy feelings. But, it should be noted with all addictions, you cannot safely just stop giving them the medicine, it can cause them to die. (What happens is, the urge to have the drug overrides your ability to think straight, resulting in abnormally high stress, anxiety, and potentially heart trouble.) Typically, the doctor in question will attempt to ‘wean’ people off the drugs slowly – and it is painfully slow for both to addict and the doctor, because one ‘slip-up’ can send them right back to abusing. (Called a ‘trigger’)

    We are talking about an Opioid crisis in the news, and since it is a relatively cheap medicine for pain it is used for extreme pain in most cases; I’ve taken it myself two separate times spaced significantly apart; one for an abscess tooth, the other for a kidney stone; both of which are incredibly painful, I had trouble walking/standing/maintaining balance with the kidney stone. I can definitely see why people get addicted to them, especially if they are dealing with chronic pain. My own incidents weren’t chronic in nature, so being on it for a short term isn’t such a problem, though it could be with someone with low willpower. It should be considered in our overworked environments; it is not stated if the doctor had too many cases with addicts to manage properly – in other words failing at medicine because of circumstances outside of his control. That would certainly bring the law knocking on your office door, at any rate.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope this is resolved to the benefit of the people who are addicted. But just shoving them back out on the street to find the drugs elsewhere is no solution at all. I have high hopes placed on these intervening co-operating government organizations that they do the right thing, instead of just arresting them all and ignoring the underlining symptom. While patting themselves on the back for a job well done; because that’s standard operating practice I’ve come to recognize as another big offender.