A Book Project.

Since 2009, Phil has been working on a book about his father's former classmate, who is now serving four consecutive life terms in federal prison. Below is a brief introduction.


Background.

Phil's father, Charles, went to college and medical school with Paul Volkman, the "Largest Physician Dispenser of Oxycodone in the U.S. from 2003-2005" (according to the Department of Justice) and the so-called "pill mill killer" (according to one Chicago TV-news channel). Since 2009, Phil has been working on a nonfiction book about Volkman's life, his case, and the Southern Ohio town - Portsmouth - where his crimes took place. Phil's work on the story began as a thesis project in the nonfiction writing program at the Columbia University School of the Arts, from which he graduated in 2011.

Phil's father (left) and Paul Volkman, from their 1968 University of Rochester yearbook,

Phil's father (left) and Paul Volkman, from their 1968 University of Rochester yearbook,

Reporting.

Phil has conducted 100 interviews across 19 states for this project. His reporting breaks down roughly into three categories: the life and career of Dr. Paul Volkman; the history of Portsmouth, Ohio, and the town's struggle with an opiate addiction/overdose epidemic; and the complex and controversial world of chronic pain management - the medical specialty that brought Volkman to Portsmouth. 

The Trial.

 

Paul Volkman's trial took place from March 1 to May 10, 2011, in U.S. district court, in Cincinnati. During that time, eighty witnesses were called (70 for the prosecution, 10 for the defense), more than 200 exhibits were shown, and, the jury deliberated for more than five days before delivering a guilty verdict. Phil was still in graduate school at the time of the trial, and attended the first few days testimony. He was barred from re-entering the courtroom, however, on Day Four, after he was issued a subpoena for testimony. Although he was never  actually called to testify, he remained on the witness list for the duration of the trial, and, as a result, was unable to observe the courtroom proceedings.

The FOIA Lawsuit.

Photo by Andrew Feight.

Photo by Andrew Feight.

In March of 2015, with the help of the Rhode Island ACLU and two pro bono attorneys - Neal McNamara and Jessica Jewell, from the Providence office of Nixon/Peabody - Phil sued the Drug Enforcement Administration, demanding the release of the Volkman trial evidence. That lawsuit is ongoing. Most recently, Phil's team and the DEA submitted motions for summary judgment. (Read Phil's team's MSJ here, and Phil's accompanying affidavit here; read the government's MSJ here.) After the lawsuit ends - which will hopefully be before the end of 2016 - Phil hopes to pitch, sell, and ultimately publish a book about Volkman's case.

Documents.

 

The Indictment.

Click here to see the full document.

Click here to see the full document.

Phil's First Letter to Paul Volkman.

Click here to see the full document.

Click here to see the full document.