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Prosecutors' drug claims dismissed after defendant dies

A gynecologist whom federal prosecutors accused of operating an interstate oxycodone ring passed away on March 20, ending the case against him. Whether the doctor would have prevailed at trial will never be known, but attorneys on each side say that they would have won the case, which involved 20 other defendants.

The defendant faced drug charges related to what prosecutors claimed was a scheme to sell oxycodone to people with no medical need for the painkiller. He made up to $200,000 some months and hired security guards at his clinics. He had offices in two Southern states but the charges were based on alleged sales in Ohio and West Virginia.

The gynecologist, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, died on March 20. The cause of death appears to be a heart attack. The federal prosecutors pursuing the case formally dropped the charges soon after, but claimed they would have gotten a conviction at trial.

But the defendant's attorney disputed that. He said that his client only prescribed oxycodone when appropriate and never for profit. The attorney suggested that some of his patients may have turned around and sold prescribed medicine without his knowledge. When the doctor did suspect that a patient was "doctor shopping" for someone to feed a pill addiction, he would refuse to treat them and report them to the authorities, the attorney said.

He described the gynecologist as a "professional, compassionate physician" and said that he would have liked the chance to establish his client's innocence at trial.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Prosecutors insist on guilt of doctor in pill case," Torsten Ove, April 4, 2012

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