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Ex-State Drug Chief Gets Fine, 5 Years in Prison

October 06, 1987

The state's former top drug abuse official was sentenced Monday to five years in prison and ordered to pay $15,000 restitution to a methadone clinic operator from whom he admitted extorting the money.

Walter Richard Atlee, 52, head of the drug abuse division of the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine by U.S. District Judge William J. Rea.

Atlee, who pleaded guilty to extortion charges after he staggered drunkenly into federal court in Los Angeles for his trial, blamed his problems on alcoholism and said he has remained sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous since his arrest on Sept. 1.

Atlee admitted extorting $50,000 from Dr. Daniel Dorr, who operates seven Los Angeles methadone clinics, in exchange for promises to grant licenses for new clinics in Pasadena, Lancaster and Bakersfield.

Atlee also was accused of demanding $15,000 from Ralph Moore, who operates a methadone clinic in South-Central Los Angeles, in exchange for a license to open a new clinic.

The restitution was ordered only for Moore because the money Dorr paid was supplied by the FBI, which was investigating Atlee's activities, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian J. Hennigan, who prosecuted the case.

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