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Plastic surgeon faces federal charges after DEA probe

Federal prosecutors have accused a Pennsylvania plastic surgeon of interfering with an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The 68-year-old doctor has held a medical license within the state since 1976 and has performed thousands of surgical procedures from his office in Greensburg. As he nears the end of his career, he will have to address federal charges that he knowingly took steps to thwart a DEA investigation.

The DEA has been investigating the plastic surgeon since at least early in 2014. The reason for the probe lies in allegations that the doctor did not follow regulations concerning the use of the drug Buprenorphine. That drug is used to treat pain, and can also be used to help heroin users overcome their addiction. Buprenorphine does have narcotic effects, however, which is why the DEA closely regulates its use.

The doctor is believed to have treated more Buprenorphine patients than is allowed by DEA regulations. He is also said to have tampered with certain medical files before turning them over under subpoena. The most serious charges allege that he asked witnesses to lie about his use of the drug and the details of office visits.

An attorney for the plastic surgeon has stated that the case does not include charges that the doctor overprescribed Buprenorphine to his patients. He also relayed that the individuals who are claiming that the doctor asked them to lie are all drug addicts, and are therefore unreliable witnesses. As the federal charges go before a court, the reliability of the prosecution's witnesses may play a central role in the Pennsylvania doctor's defense strategy.

Source: wtae.com, "Feds: Plastic surgeon thwarted grand jury drug investigation", Joe Mandak, April 15, 2015

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