NEW BRUNSWICK - A 78-year-old former Warren doctor was sentenced to 10 years in prison for supplying a drug ring with tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the highly addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on Monday.

Dr. George Beecher, an ear, nose and throat specialist who formerly had a practice in Warren, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. 

Over the state’s objection, Bucca allowed Beecher, a New Providence resident, to remain free on bail pending the appeal of his conviction.

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“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 Gurbir Grewal. “This prison sentence reflects our determination to stop the doctors and pill mills supplying the black market for opioid pain pills, which are starting so many users on the devastating and often deadly path of opioid addiction.” 

Beecher pleaded guilty on Sept. 19 to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (oxycodone). Beecher permanently surrendered his medical license as a result of the guilty plea.

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 were the result of “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”, according to the news release from the Office of the Attorney General.

Seven members of the oxycodone distribution ring were indicted separately. All seven pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone. Andrew Stoveken, 68, of Edison, pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14.  Stoveken ran a hearing aid company and shared an office with Beecher in Warren and acted as a middleman between Beecher and the drug ring, the release said. 

“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. “This sentence sends a strong deterrent message to healthcare professionals who engage in this corrupt conduct.”

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