Doctors Could Face Jail Time For OverdosesApr 4th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office detective spent months investigating a West Palm Beach pediatrician who is accused of dispensing addictive drugs as though they were lollipops.
A grand jury has indicted Sergio R. Rodriguez on 18 charges including first-degree murder for the deaths of three men who overdosed on the pills he prescribed. That makes Dr. Rodriguez the second Florida doctor in recent memory to face first-degree murder charges for prescribing drugs. If justice prevails, he will be the first one convicted on those charges.
Capt. Carl Durr, the supervisor in charge of the pharmaceutical narcotics division at the sheriff’s office, said making cases against doctors is a complicated process. “You’re talking about medical opinion,” he said. “It’s very difficult to prove that doctors operated outside the scope of what the medical norm is.”
Indeed. A jury acquitted Denis Deonarine, the first doctor charged with first-degree murder, in 2001, after the case dragged on four years. They convicted him instead of drug selling, racketeering and fraud. Deonarine, who practiced in Jupiter, is serving a 25-year sentence in state prison.
It took two trials to get a jury to convict a Fort Pierce doctor of a single count of manslaughter in the overdose deaths of her patients. Dr. Asuncion Luyao, whose first trial ended with a hung jury, had been charged with six counts of manslaughter. Her conviction was overturned and she is awaiting a third trial.
Dr. Rodriguez allegedly prescribed powerful narcotics on several occasions to an undercover detective without once examining her or confirming a medical need. Capt. Durr said the detective who investigated him still spends a lot of time on the case because she wants to ensure a conviction.
“It’s almost her main thing,” he said. “She has a passion for it. She wants him to be held accountable for the deaths that he took a part in.”
No drug dealers should be above the law, even those with a prescription pad.