Accused Ohio pill mill doctor died of overdose

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A 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, an autopsy report shows.

Dr. Victor Georgescu, linked by federal investigators to a woman's 2009 prescription painkiller overdose death, 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.

Greater Medical Advance was the last pain clinic in Scioto County before it was shut down last year. George Adkins, its owner and Georgescu's employer, is serving a 10-year prison term for illegal drug distribution following his conviction in September.

Adkins, of West Portsmouth, pleaded guilty in September to five felony counts involving drug trafficking, corrupt activity and forgery related to the clinic he ran until December 2011.

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.

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.

Georgescu's attorney said he talked to his client on the day he died and that the 51-year-old doctor seemed fine.

The lawyer, Gene Meadows, said they were "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.

"He would thank you for calling you back," he said. "In this type of practice you just don't hear that."

The Drug Enforcement Administration said Georgescu wrote prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxants for 34-year-old Leslie Cooper on Oct. 2, 2009. She died the next day of an overdose of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin.

The DEA says several pills, as well as "a silver spoon with white residue on it and a needle with no cap on it" were found near Cooper's body. Her family has acknowledged she was an addict.

Cooper's mother said she didn't want to come across as spiteful but can't feel sorry for Georgescu.

"He had that chance to say no," said Barb Howard, of Portsmouth. "Just like my daughter did. She made a bad choice. He made a bad choice, by continuing over and over and over."

Authorities alleged the Wheelersburg clinic where Georgescu worked was a well-known destination for addicts that existed to generate money for its operators.

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.

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