TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Somerset County doctor has pleaded guilty to charges that he supplied a drug ring with tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the highly addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone.
Dr. George Beecher, 77, of New Providence, N.J., pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (oxycodone) before Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Beecher be sentenced to 10 years in state prison. He must enter a consent order to permanently surrender his medical license. Beecher is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 16.
Deputy Attorneys General Michael W. King and Philip Mogavero prosecuted Beecher and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The investigation revealed that, in order to supply the drug ring, Beecher wrote prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose for tens of thousands of 30 mg oxycodone pills in the names of people he never examined, treated, or even met. The charges stem from “Operation Busted Script,” an investigation by the Attorney General’s Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team, a team of detectives and attorneys in the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau that targets corrupt healthcare professionals and “pill mills.”
Seven members of the oxycodone distribution ring were indicted separately. All seven have pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. Andrew Stoveken, 68, of Edison, N.J., pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Stoveken be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Stoveken ran a hearing aid company and shared an office with Beecher. He acted as a middleman between Beecher and the drug ring. George Sara, 39, of Bordentown, N.J. was sentenced to five years in state prison. Sara purchased oxycodone in bulk to distribute. The other ring members who pleaded guilty were sentenced to drug court or face sentences of probation.
“Doctors like Beecher who prescribe opioids for illegal distribution are at least as culpable as the drug dealers they supply, because they use their licenses not to heal, but to inflict incalculable harm,” said Attorney General Grewal. “With so many users starting on the path to opioid addiction with prescription pain pills, we are determined to stop the doctors and pill mills supplying this deadly black market.”
“Our Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team will continue to target the doctors and pharmacists who profit by illegally distributing prescription opioids,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “With this guilty plea, we send a strong deterrent message that healthcare professionals who engage in this corrupt conduct are destined for prison, just like street-level drug dealers.”
Deputy Attorney General King, Detective Kevin Gannon and Sgt. Michael Rasar conducted the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Prescription Fraud Strike Team, under the supervision of Lt. Lisa Cawley, Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue, Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Attorney General Grewal also thanked the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section for their valuable assistance in the investigation.
Defense Attorney: James Doyle, Galantucci & Patuto
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