NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s head Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Levy was arrested in Mississippi and charged with felony marijuana possession after investigators found a package of pot with his name on it and more of the drug at his hotel room, authorities said Wednesday.
Levy, 49, also does coroner’s work in Mississippi, and both states said they were suspending contracts with his two businesses. The package with Levy’s name on it at a distribution center contained less than an ounce of marijuana, said Jon Kalahar of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Agents on Tuesday also found several containers at his Ridgeland, Miss., hotel room, each with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Calls to Levy’s Nashville office seeking comment weren’t returned and a reporter could not get to his home is in a gated community for a comment.
Levy has been chief medical examiner in Tennessee since March 1998 under contract with the state. Before that, he was chief medical examiner for Metro Nashville.
He was also one of six doctors who rotate throughout Mississippi performing medical examiner duties.
Levy came to Tennessee from New York City where he was chief city medical examiner from 1993 to 1997.
In 2009, Levy’s office performed the autopsy on ex-NFL quarterback Steve McNair, concluding that McNair most likely was a victim of murder-suicide. Police said McNair was shot to death by his girlfriend who then killed herself.
Levy and an assistant were sued in 2005 by an elderly widow who claimed her husband’s body was videotaped for a Discovery Channel program even though she didn’t give permission. The segment never aired, but jurors awarded Virginia Gower $200,000.
Medical examiners have had a troubled history in Tennessee. Levy succeeded Dr. Charles Harlan, whose medical license had been revoked for misconduct. Complaints against Harlan included incomplete examinations, botched conclusions and bizarre personal behavior that included storing body parts in his laundry room.
In Memphis, then-Shelby County Medical Examiner O.C. Smith resigned after he was indicted on charges that he faked a bomb attack on himself, but the case resulted in a mistrial in 2005.
Smith was found in a county morgue stairwell in June 2002 with his feet, hands and head wrapped in barbed wire and a bomb hung around his neck. He said he was attacked by an unknown assailant who threw a caustic chemical in his face, but investigators eventually concluded the attack was staged.
As president and CEO of Nashville-based Forensic Medical, Levy won a contract in 2006 to provide technical expertise and administrative support to Dr. Karen Chancellor, Shelby County’s medical examiner.
The medical examiner’s office is responsible for conducting autopsies to find out how people died.
In a 2007 interview, Levy said the company was on track to make a $200,000 profit in its first year under the Shelby County contract.
He said the company earned a profit by cutting costs below its government reimbursement — for instance, negotiating good rates with suppliers.
He said the company, which also runs the regional medical examiner’s office in Davidson County, earned total profits of $800,000 the previous year.
Yvonne Madlock, director of the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department said in a statement: “Shelby County Government is aware of the recent arrest of Dr. Bruce Levy. This occurrence has no impact on operations at the Shelby County Forensic Center, which includes the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office. “