Maryland doctor to plead guilty to federal drug charges

A Maryland physician is expected to plead guilty to drug charges after allegations surfaced that he was illegally prescribing high-powered painkillers to his patients. The man is facing federal drug charges — drug possession and distribution — in connection with the incidents. The gynecologist with 30 years of experience has already been required to surrender his medical license.

Authorities allege that the defendant was illegally distributing the high-octane painkillers oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone, among other medications. An investigation through the Maryland Board of Physicians determined that he had been mailing painkiller drugs to female patients in other states for years. That investigation was launched by an office worker who took pictures of the large quantities of drugs that were being distributed through the practice. The physician claims that he was writing prescriptions for his romantic partner; the drug offenses did not yield him any monetary gain.

A plea deal has not yet been reached in connection with the allegations, though additional details are likely to become available in the coming weeks. The defendant has been a medical professional in the area since the mid-1980s, when he opened his practice in Baltimore. He was also named as the director of two minimally invasive surgical centers in the Greater Baltimore area.

The defendant in this case is choosing to enter a guilty plea to the drug offenses, ostensibly with the goal of receiving a more lenient sentence than he would face after a conviction through a criminal trial. Guilty pleas are useful for some criminal defendants, but they are not appropriate for every person facing federal drug charges. Those accused of trafficking prescription drugs should consider a variety of legal options before pursuing a plea deal.

Source:  News & Observer, “Lawyer: Md. doctor to plead guilty to drug charge” Juliet Linderman, Associated Press, May. 19, 2014