PDT Staff Writer
The Associated Press reported Thursday the doctor who died weeks before his trial on charges of participating in what authorities alleged was a notorious pill mill committed suicide by drug overdose, according to the autopsy report.
Dr. Victor Georgescu, 51, who operated Greater Medical Advance, on Ohio River Road in Wheelersburg, Scioto County’s last pain clinic, was linked by federal investigators to a woman’s 2009 prescription painkiller overdose death. The Drug Enforcement Administration said Georgescu wrote prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxants for Leslie Cooper, 39, on Oct. 2, 2009. She died the next day of an overdose of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin.
Georgescu was accused of prescribing many of the clinic’s prescription medications. He was facing similar charges, but was found dead in a motel prior to his trial.
Georgescu died Aug. 4 from a toxic combination of vodka and sleeping pills, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.
The Liberty, Ohio Police Department received a call from Super 8 Motel on Aug. 4, 2012. The caller advised police a subject in Room No. 122 was lying on the floor and was unresponsive. Liberty Fire as well as two patrolmen responded the scene, and it was determined the male subject had died. The Trumbull County Coroners office was notified by officers, and responded to the scene.
According to the police report, an empty bottle of 90 proof vodka, and a cup used to mix prescription medication were found in the room.
Georgescu was arrested at his home in Centerville, Ohio, on Dec. 20, 2011, at the same time authorities were raiding the Greater Medical Advance at 8744 Ohio River Road, in Wheelersburg. He had been scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 17. He had been free on $150,000 bond and had surrendered his passport.
Georgescu’s attorney said he talked to his client on the day he died and that the doctor seemed fine.
Scioto County attorney Gene Meadows, said the defense team was “absolutely planning” to go to trial. He said they planned to argue that the doctor was following state prescribing guidelines and that there was a medical basis for the prescriptions he was writing.
Meadows said Georgescu was an honest, caring, concerned man.
Barbara Howard, whose daughter Leslie Dawn Cooper, died at the age of 34 on Oct. 3, 2009, as a result of a drug overdose, says it was Georgescu who wrote her daughter’s prescriptions..
“He is the one that prescribed my daughter all the medication she overdosed on,” Howard said. “He was at the Greater Medical Advance, and he sent her to the pharmacy in Columbus. He knew exactly what he did was wrong. And to be facing what he was facing - yes, I think it gives me quite a bit of closure, because I don’t think he’s going to be anywhere near my daughter up in heaven.
“He had that chance to say no,” Cooper said. “Just like my daughter did. She made a bad choice. He made a bad choice, by continuing over and over and over.”
George Marshall Adkins, of West Portsmouth, the owner of Greater Medical Advance, is serving a 10-year prison term for illegal drug distribution after pleading guilty in September to five felony counts involving drug trafficking, corrupt activity and forgery.
Adkins’ case represents one of the first convictions on the state level against a non-prescriber for the management and activities connected to a pill mill. Investigators found that Dr. Victor Georgescu, of Centerville, Ohio, illegally prescribed many of the clinic’s prescription medications. Georgescu was facing similar charges, but was found dead in a motel prior to his trial.
“I think this case demonstrates how serious we are about stopping prescription drug abuse in Scioto County and in Ohio,” Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said at the time of Adkins’ sentencing. “Sometimes it only takes one pill to end someone’s life, and we need to do everything we can to stop overdose deaths.”
Georgescu, a Romanian immigrant, told investigators in 2010 he took the clinic job out of desperation and knew what he was doing was wrong.
He was scheduled for a trial on charges of engaging in corrupt activity, conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity, funding drug trafficking and permitting drug abuse.
According to the Associated Press, investigators said Georgescu wrote more than 14,000 prescriptions from June 2009 through March 2010 during a time the clinic was open only 36 hours a week.
Scioto County was once home to more than a dozen such clinics, criticized as drugs-on-demand facilities that accepted only cash and which did cursory reviews of patients’ medical problems before prescribing drugs.
Charges against Georgescu said he wrote prescriptions for more powerful doses than necessary, prescribed for multiple patients at the same address or for people who moved frequently. The state medical board said Georgescu prescribed drugs without documenting their medical condition or doing thorough examinations.
Georgescu’s, “patients have a reputation as being drug abusers, addicts or drug traffickers, with documented felony convictions,” Kevin Kineer, a state Pharmacy Board compliance agent, wrote in a 2010 application for a search warrant.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org