MADISON — Members of the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board on Wednesday revoked the license of a Caledonia dermatologist-turned-federal drug informant after he was accused of using his role as a doctor to induce three patients into providing him with cocaine, resulting in them being hit with drug charges.
The action was taken for the alleged unprofessional conduct by Steven L. Armus, who turns 55 on Thursday, Nov. 19.
He had been set to go before an administrative law judge on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a scheduling order issued by the state’s Division of Hearings and Appeals.
However, that hearing was called off earlier this week as both sides worked on this agreement, stated Hannah Zillmer, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
A message was left Wednesday afternoon for Armus’ defense attorney, Patrick Knight, but he wasn’t available for comment. Armus couldn’t be reached for comment.
Armus has been working as a confidential drug informant after being busted by federal investigators in a multi-state cocaine distribution ring.
Until Wednesday, Armus’ license to practice medicine in Wisconsin had been current through Oct. 31, 2017.
The state’s Medical Examining Board has jurisdiction over alleged violations of professional conduct, and issues decisions.
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In Armus’ case, his license to practice medicine and perform surgeries was revoked. However, Armus may petition to have his license reinstated two years after his license was revoked. It takes effect Dec. 18.
If Armus does petition for his license to be reinstated, he first will have to “pay the costs of this matter in the amount of $9,400 before any such petition may be considered,” the board wrote in its three-page order.
From federal charges to federal informant
Armus, one of the founders of Great Lakes Dermatology, pleaded guilty on Sept. 6, 2011, to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine after he was busted in an alleged multi-county, multi-state distribution ring.
New owners took over Great Lakes Dermatology earlier this year, and the company now is called Ascend Dermatology. Armus is not affiliated with this new company, according to one of the owners.
After the plea deal, Armus began working with federal agents and Racine and Kenosha county investigators as a confidential informant — in exchange for promises to receive a reduced sentence in his own federal drug case.
“In 2012, under the supervision of state prosecutors and law enforcement agents, (Armus) purchased cocaine and crack cocaine from three current and former dermatology patients on multiple occasions as a confidential informant. Those purchases…resulted in the patients being arrested, charged and convicted of drug offenses,” the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board wrote.
They received complaints from three then-current and former patients on July 31, 2013, alleging Armus used his role as their doctor “to induce them into procuring cocaine” for him, the board wrote.
Armus “denies the violations alleged,” but agreed to this license revocation, the board stated.
Armus’s sentencing in his drug case had been scheduled for Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, however, his sentencing was reset for Dec. 11.