Doctor convicted of writing illegal prescriptions, now cares for the elderly

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MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- Multiple people in Central Virginia who have loved ones living in assisted living facilities that see a Mechanicsville doctor reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers after searching his name and finding that he served time in federal prison for writing up to 100,000 prescriptions over the internet for people he never met.

"I’m concerned, I’m very concerned," one woman, who spoke to CBS 6 on the condition of anonymity, said. "I do not believe he should be practicing medicine, and if that were the outcome, I would be relieved."

The woman said her 90-something-year-old loved one lived in a local assisted living facility where Dr. Torino Jennings serves as the "house physician."

Dr. Torino Jennings

Dr. Torino Jennings

The facility does not technically employ him, but she said it has a relationship with his business, House Calls of Virginia.

"If they had done a worthwhile look into his history, I can’t believe they would go ahead and create this relationship, and put our loved ones in harm’s way by having him on as the house physician," she said.

Records from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals show the state suspended Jennings' medical license in 2009 after he was convicted of writing illegal prescriptions and tax evasion.

Two years earlier, the state fined Jennings for authorizing 150 prescriptions weekly over the internet even though he never saw those patients, according to state records.

Those records show one of the recipients of those prescriptions had to be admitted for detoxification and treated for liver complications.

Still, six months after he was released from prison, Virginia gave him a probationary license and it was fully reinstated in October of 2013.

assisted living

"It’s a dangerous mindset to have to be dealing with people and to be manipulating drugs and to be profiting from drugs," the woman said.

Another person whose loved one sees Dr. Jennings at a different assisted living facility also independently contacted CBS 6 about the doctor and wanted to speak out as long as we protected their identity.

"It is serious," the person said.

They worry that some residents in assisted living facilities may not have the cognitive wherewithal to make sure Dr. Jennings takes care of them properly.

"If people can research him then they can make that decision to say yes, he can still be my doctor, but those people who are in senior homes and assisted living facilities and nursing homes, they’re not going to Google him, and they’re not going to know that past," the person said.

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit emailed Dr. Jennings twice, visited his office and talked to his staff, and visited his home, but she never heard back from him.

However, she did talk to a woman who calls Jennings exceptional.

"He was heads and tails above many other doctors I’ve dealt with in terms of the quality of his patient care and the interaction with me and my mother," Debbie Bowie said.

Debbie Bowie and mother

Debbie Bowie and mother

Bowie's mom saw Dr. Jennings for over three years when she lived in an assisted living facility.

Bowie did not know about Jennings' criminal past.

"It seems impossible,” Bowie said. “The man that I met was high integrity."

She said had she known before meeting him, she might not have given him a chance, but she said he became a blessing for her and her mom who passed away last year.

"He was there for us and really made the whole journey that much easier for me," Bowie said.

A spokesperson for Commonwealth Senior Living, which owns a couple of the assisted living facilities where Jennings see patients, said it is common for assisted living communities to work with preferred doctors, but every resident has the right to choose any doctor they want.

The spokesperson said they've received no complaints or concerns about Dr. Jennings.

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