New Jersey Doctor Busted In Statewide Opiate Ring

New Jersey Doctor Busted In Statewide Opiate Ring

By Kelly Burch 08/23/16

George Beecher may spend the rest of his life in prison for the 2013 overdose death of a man to whom he allegedly prescribed unnecessary pain pills.  

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New Jersey Doctor Busted In Statewide Opiate Ring

A New Jersey doctor was indicted last week on charges that he was a key player in a million-dollar prescription drug ring.

George Beecher, an ear, nose and throat specialist, wrote hundreds of false prescriptions for about two and a half years, providing tens of thousands of pain pills to his so-called patients, many of whom he never actually met, New Jersey's Acting Attorney General Christopher Porrino’s office told NJ.com

The prescription drug ring was detected after the 2013 death of 30-year-old Jason Stoveken, who fatally overdosed on Xanax and oxycodone prescribed by Beecher. Stoveken's father, Andrew Stoveken, ran a hearing aid company and shared an office suite with Beecher. Andrew Stoveken became the middleman, coordinating exchanges between the doctor and the drug dealers.

"We allege that even after a young man died from narcotics that Dr. Beecher falsely prescribed, Beecher and the victim's own father, defendant Andrew Stoveken, callously continued to profit by supplying tens of thousands of oxycodone pills to drug dealers," Porrino said in a statement.

Beecher was also indicted for the younger Stoveken's overdose death, under a New Jersey law that allows drug dealers to be charged with a first-degree crime after a fatal overdose. 

Authorities said that Beecher had knowingly wrote unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone and Xanax for Jason Stoveken before his death, and that the doctor wrote false prescriptions made out to the other drug ring members, who he never actually examined. When the drugs were secured, they were distributed to dealers before being sold on the streets.

During the two and a half years Beecher dispensed false prescriptions—January 2013 to October 2015—the doctor reportedly provided the drug ring with over $1 million in pain pills. Members of the ring are facing five to 10 years in prison, while Beecher faces 10 to 20 years in prison, an effective life sentence for the 75-year-old. 

In 2014, a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors are the top source of misused prescription drugs. At the time, researchers called for more regulation of “problem prescribers.” 

Since then, many states have instituted prescription drug monitoring programs, which track individuals who prescribe and fill prescriptions. The CDC calls these programs one of the most effective state-level interventions in the opioid crisis. New Jersey instituted its prescription drug monitoring program in 2012, but it is not clear whether the program played a role in identifying this drug ring. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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