861 F.2d 72 (4th Cir. 1988), 88-3815, Trawick v. Drug Enforcement Admin.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Citation861 F.2d 72
Docket Number88-3815.
PartiesDavid E. TRAWICK, D.D.S., Petitioner, v. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, Respondent.
Date15 November 1988

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861 F.2d 72 (4th Cir. 1988)

David E. TRAWICK, D.D.S., Petitioner,



No. 88-3815.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 15, 1988

Argued Oct. 4, 1988.

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Teresa L. Conrad (Casstevens, Hanner, Gunter & Gordon, P.A., Charlotte, N.C., on brief), for petitioner.

Harry Stephen Harbin (John L. Kuray, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, Crim. Div., Madeleine R. Shirley, Office of Chief Counsel, Drug Enforcement Admin., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., on brief), for respondent.

Before HALL, PHILLIPS, and WILKINSON, Circuit Judges.


David E. Trawick, D.D.S. (Petitioner), challenges the Drug Enforcement Agency's (the DEA's) revocation of his DEA Certificate of Registration and the denial of his application for renewal. Petitioner charges that the Administrator lacks the statutory authority to revoke or deny a registration under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 824(a)(4) on the basis of a misdemeanor conviction related to controlled substances but unrelated to the registrant's professional practice or to the registration itself. Petitioner also claims that the Administrator's Order fails to consider the relevant statutory factors and that his findings lack sufficient evidentiary support. We conclude that it was within the Administrator's discretion to revoke petitioner's DEA Registration and to deny his pending application. We also find petitioner's other contentions without merit and therefore affirm.


Petitioner has been licensed to practice dentistry in North Carolina since June 22, 1964, and has practiced in Shelby, North Carolina since 1974. In 1981 or 1982, he began abusing alcohol and shortly thereafter began using cocaine. Petitioner maintains that his drinking and cocaine use was restricted to nights and weekends, and the record contains uncontroverted witness testimony that his habits did not affect his work performance.

In August 1984, the Cleveland County, North Carolina Sheriff's Department began Operation Snowfall, an undercover operation designed to identify and prosecute those involved in the illegal use of controlled substances in Cleveland County. A patient of petitioner's, who was being investigated for growing marijuana, agreed to become a police informant in exchange for the possibility of lenient treatment. The informant supplied petitioner's name in response to a question from police about people who were using, selling or purchasing cocaine. The informant subsequently arranged a meeting between petitioner and an undercover police officer, Special Agent Kenneth Razza. After several meetings, Razza asked petitioner if he could procure some cocaine. Petitioner called a third party who later came to petitioner's house with approximately 3 grams of white powder that appeared to be cocaine. Petitioner and Razza split the powder. Razza later testified that petitioner then inhaled one line of the powder but it did not seem to affect him. He also testified that during this transaction several of petitioner's friends smoked marijuana they obtained from a tray that had been on the coffee table throughout the morning. Razza's share of the white powder was subsequently analyzed and found to be 1.5 grams of

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cocaine. Although petitioner, Razza and the informant met at petitioner's home one other time, no drugs were exchanged or even seen. Razza testified that he suspected petitioner learned that Razza was an undercover officer and deliberately guarded his behavior.

Several months later, in March 1985, before the filing of any charges against him, petitioner voluntarily entered the Palm Beach Institute, an alcohol and drug treatment center in West Palm Beach, Florida. He left the Institute approximately six weeks later, returning to his practice in Shelby. When he returned, he requested his family physician to administer random urine tests to monitor his freedom from controlled substances. He also joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, attending meetings three to four times a week. In Narcotics Anonymous, petitioner has held several offices and has participated in counseling adolescents and prisoners.

On May 10, 1985, as part of Operation Snowfall, petitioner was arrested at his office for the November transaction with Razza, the undercover police officer. Although he was indicted on several state felony drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine, he later pleaded guilty only to misdemeanor possession of cocaine as part of a plea agreement in which the state dropped the felony charges. He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to a suspended two-year prison term and a three-year term of supervised probation.

Following petitioner's conviction, the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners conducted a hearing to determine whether petitioner's conviction also violated the North Carolina Dental Practice Act. Petitioner entered a consent decree in which the Board found that his conviction violated the Act. The Board ordered his licence suspended for 90 days, but immediately stayed the order subject to petitioner's successful completion of a five-year probation.

Petitioner later applied for a renewal of his DEA Registration shortly before it was to expire on June 30, 1986. The DEA issued an Order to Show Cause why the DEA should not revoke petitioner's current registration and deny any pending application for renewal, maintaining that petitioner's prior conviction rendered his registration inconsistent with the public interest per 21 U.S.C. Sec. 823(f) (1988).

Petitioner requested a hearing on the issues raised by the Order to Show Cause. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found that petitioner's registration was inconsistent with the public interest and determined that his registration should be revoked and any pending application denied. The Administrator of the DEA affirmed the decision.

This petition for review followed.


We first consider petitioner's primary contention that the Administrator of the DEA lacked the authority to revoke his registration and deny his pending application for renewal. This is an issue of first impression. No court has yet determined whether the 1984 "public interest" amendment to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. Sec. 824(a)(4), allows revocation of a current DEA registration and denial of a pending renewal application based on a misdemeanor possession conviction that is unrelated to the registrant's practice and to the purported purpose behind the amendment itself.


The CSA requires that every practitioner who dispenses or distributes any controlled substances in connection with his practice obtain a certificate of registration from the Attorney General. 21 U.S.C. Secs. 822(a), 823(f). The CSA vests authority in the Attorney General to deny, revoke or suspend registrations, 21 U.S.C. Sec. 824, but the Attorney General has delegated this authority to the Administrator of the DEA. 28 C.F.R. Sec. 0.100(b) (1987).

Before 1984, the Administrator could revoke, deny or suspend a DEA registration for three reasons: (1) the falsification of an application; (2) a felony conviction related

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to controlled substances; and (3) the suspension, revocation or denial of a state license or registration by an authorized state authority. 21 U.S.C. Secs. 824(a)(1)-(3). In 1984, Congress added a fourth reason when it enacted the Dangerous Drug Diversion Control Act (the Act), which specifically targeted the abuse of prescriptive...

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23 practice notes
  • Joe W. Morgan, D.O.; Decision and Order
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 08, 2013
    • October 8, 2013
    ...not required to discuss consideration of each factor in equal detail, or even every factor in any given level of detail. Trawick v. DEA, 861 F.2d 72, 76 (4th Cir. 1988) (the Administrator's obligation to explain the decision rationale may be satisfied even if only minimal consideration is g......
  • Top RX Pharmacy; Decision and Order
    • United States
    • Federal Register May 03, 2013
    • May 3, 2013
    ...not required to discuss consideration of each factor in equal detail, or even every factor in any given level of detail. Trawick v. DEA, 861 F.2d 72, 76 (4th Cir. 1988) (the Administrator's obligation to explain the decision rationale may be satisfied even if only minimal consideration is g......
  • Lawrence E. Stewart, M.D.; Decision and Order
    • United States
    • Federal Register August 17, 2016
    • August 17, 2016
    ...419 F.3d 477, 482 (6th Cir. 2005). Further, there is no requirement to consider a factor in any given level of detail. Trawick v. DEA, 861 F.2d 72, 76-77 (4th Cir. 1988). When deciding whether registration is in the public interest, the totality of the circumstances must be considered. See ......
  • JM Pharmacy Group, Inc., d/b/a Farmacia Nueva and Best Pharma Corp; Decision and Order
    • United States
    • Federal Register May 19, 2015
    • May 19, 2015
    ...not required to discuss consideration of each factor in equal detail, or even every factor in any given level of detail. Trawick v. DEA, 861 F.2d 72, 76 (4th Cir. 1988) (holding that the Administrator's obligation to explain the decision rationale may be satisfied even if only minimal consi......
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    ...question on which the witness is likely to have knowledge.” International Automated Machines, 285 NLRB 1122, 1123 (1987), enfd. mem. 861 F.2d 720 (6th Cir. 1988). I draw such an adverse inference from Respondent’s failure to call as a witness a person who was likely to 5know who made the de......
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