SAVANNAH, Ga. — A Savannah psychiatrist once honored for his community work will remain in federal custody after his court-appointed lawyer waived a hearing on accusations his client traded prescriptions and cash for sex with local strippers.
Dr. William Ellien, 58, was arrested last week on a federal complaint for illegally distributing controlled substances for no legitimate medical reason. He was ordered detained pending a hearing Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.
Ellien, handcuffed and wearing a jail jump suit, was brought to court and almost immediately returned upstairs to the U.S. Marshal’s lockup after attorney George Asinc of Rincon waived the hearing.
In 2011, the Georgia Medical Society named Ellien a health care hero for health care education for conducting or sponsoring activities that have improved the quality of life in the community.
He was a private-practice physician who served as medical director for Memorial Health’s Center for Behavioral Medicine on the campus from 2007 until his contract was terminated in September.
According to the latest affidavit submitted by federal Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Douglas Kahn, “a number of witnesses” told investigators they had sex with Ellien in exchange for drugs.
One witness told investigators she met Ellien at the Holiday Inn Express on Abercorn Street in June “for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with him,” the affidavit said.
In exchange, he gave her a prescription for the drug Xanax and cash, the affidavit said.
Agents also determined that Ellien “on more than one occasion booked rooms” at the motel, the affidavit said.
The affidavit indicated Ellien had been under investigation since September.
The affidavit stated the agent did not include “all facts known to me, but only the facts necessary to establish probable cause that” Ellien violated federal law.
The affidavit said that during an interview with drug agents, Ellien “admitted to meeting various girls at local strip clubs,” then engaging in sexual acts with them “in exchange for cash and prescriptions,” the affidavit said.
He also admitted the conduct occurred from about 2009 until the end of November 2012 and that the conduct was “unlawful and unethical,” the affidavit said.