A federal judge has denied a Kennebunk doctor’s request to throw out evidence seized in a 2022 FBI raid of her office.

That evidence includes patient medical records that police took from Dr. Merideth Norris on Oct. 26, 2022, such as schedules, referrals, treatment notes, assessments, medical correspondence and billing information.

Norris has been charged with illegally prescribing dangerous amounts of opioids to five patients, which she has denied through her attorneys.

Her legal team argued that the federal government’s case against her was based on a “deliberately misleading” affidavit written by FBI agent Dale Wengler when he was applying for search warrants in Norris’ case. Wengler cited an investigation into Norris’ prescribing habits by the Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure as evidence against her – but he failed to mention that the board had actually dismissed that investigation on Oct. 13, 2022, two weeks before the FBI raided her office.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen agreed with Norris that investigators acted “with a reckless disregard for the truth.”

But ultimately, Torresen ruled, Wengler had enough evidence beyond the board’s investigation to suggest that Norris’ patients were at risk, including investigations by other entities and opinions from medical experts.


The judge also denied Norris’ requests to bar prosecutors from using electronic patient records. Her attorneys argued that prosecutors overstepped the limited authority they had to view digital records for patients with substance use disorder, who are afforded a high level of privacy under federal law. Torresen disagreed.

Torresen was not weighing in on Norris’ guilt or innocence. She was only tasked with deciding whether Wengler had established enough “probable cause” in his affidavit for a search warrant, which is a lesser legal burden in criminal cases than actually finding someone guilty.

Dr. Merideth Norris of Kennebunk walks into federal court in Portland on Feb. 7 with her attorney Tim Zerillo. Norris is charged with 17 counts of illegally prescribing opioids. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Conversations surrounding Norris’ case are complex. She is facing 17 counts of distribution of controlled substances. These are crimes normally reserved for serious drug dealers, being applied to prescriptions Norris wrote as a doctor.

Other medical professionals – some of whom share very different opinions from Norris’ when it comes to prescribing opioids – have all worried about what precedent her case might set, especially for doctors who treat patients with complicated medical needs.

“I am aware that in the last twenty years, viewpoints have shifted both on the treatment of substance use disorder and on the use of opioids to manage pain,” Torresen wrote. “These areas of medicine are not without controversy.”



Norris was arrested on Oct. 26, 2022, but was released on bail shortly afterward. She is barred from prescribing any controlled substances while she awaits trial.

Her arrest sent shockwaves throughout southern Maine, where Norris was a well-known treatment provider for those experiencing substance use disorder, as well as an outspoken critic of efforts to regulate doctors who prescribe opioids.

Norris owns Graceful Recovery in Kennebunk and worked with opioid use disorder patients at three other Maine clinics.

Her suspension left hundreds looking for medical care, including patients who needed help with substance use disorder and those dealing with chronic pain.

She was the first person charged by the New England Prescription Opioid Task Force launched by the Department of Justice in June 2022. According to its website, the task force has arrested one other doctor since 2022 in New Hampshire. He was indicted in September and his case is still active.

Both the federal government and the Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure began investigating Norris in June, after learning about a letter she received in November 2021 from Walmart, refusing to fill any more prescriptions from her.


Walmart said they believed her patients were diverting and abusing medication. Wengler also cited Walmart’s decision in his affidavit.

Both the FBI and the licensing board reviewed records for six of Norris’ patients.

The board decided to end its investigation on Oct. 13 after holding a public hearing, and after reviewing Norris’ response to their questions about her prescribing policies. A federal grand jury indicted Norris a week later.

During a hearing with Torresen in February, Wengler and other members of the strike force testified that their investigation had more resources than the state licensing board.

In his affidavit, he cited medical experts whom the prosecution hired to review records for the six Norris patients. They suggested the prescriptions were dangerously high and the patients were at risk of overdose.

One expert resigned from the federal government’s case after she saw how her opinions were mentioned in the affidavit and in later news coverage.


Another, Donald Sullivan, is still a part of the federal government’s case. In the affidavit, he stated that Norris’ patients were at “imminent risk for an overdose.”

Nationally, Norris fell in the 99th percentile for high opioid prescribing rates, according to Wengler’s affidavit.

He also wrote that from January 2018 to June 2022, Norris had 22 patients die, their average age being roughly 49 years old.

Another nine of her Medicare patients died in the same time frame, their average age being 68 years old.

Medical examiners ruled that at least eight of these 31 deaths were from an overdose, Wengler wrote.

“The affidavit still establishes that there is a fair probability that Dr. Norris was distributing controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice without legitimate medical need,” Torresen wrote in her latest ruling.

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