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Guilty plea made by Venice doctor in drug case

In a California drug crime case that suprised locals, a Venice doctor pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.

The charge alleges that he wrote prescriptions for high-powered painkillers even after his legally authority to do so had been formally revoked. Doing so was a violation of federal law, and resulted in authorities bringing a case against him.

The doctor, 72, has been practicing in West Hollywood for years. His guilty plea affirms that he distributed hydrocodone, which is the generic form of the compund sold in well-known drugs like Norco and Vicodin. There had been three counts of hydrocodone distribution filed against him; he pleaded guilty to one.

According to the indictment filed last May, the doctor illegally used a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration number that had already been revoked. Using the revoked number resulted in an additional four charges being filed against him. Prosecutors say that he would write prescriptions for the drugs, receiving cash payments in return to avoid the tracking associated with checks and credit cards. He did this from both his West Hollywood medical office and a storefront in nearby Santa Monica, a popular beachfront community. DEA records say that the doctor also issued recommendations for medical marijuana from his West Hollywood office.

This is not the first time he has been in trouble with federal authorities. His DEA registration number had been revoked for cause in December 2011 by a DEA administrative judge. At that time, the judge had said the doctor acted like a drug dealer. Six months later, in June 2012, the DEA revoked his registration number permanently. Instead of accepting that, however, the doctor continued to use the same revoked number to distribute drugs to patients. His sentencing will be on December 9.

Drug crime legal cases can involve many complex issues and take place in Florida no less frequently than anywhere else in the country. An experienced attorney who works with drug crime issues can work to mitigate the consequences of charges against you.

Source:, "Venice Doctor Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Charge" Kelly Hartog, Aug. 13, 2013

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