Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Somerset County doctor was sentenced to state prison today for supplying a drug ring with tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the highly addictive opioid painkiller oxycodone.
Officials say Dr. George Beecher, 78, of New Providence, an ear, nose and throat specialist who formerly had a practice in Warren, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. Over the state’s objection, Judge Bucca allowed Beecher to remain free on bail while he pursues an appeal of his conviction. 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.”
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. He faces a recommended sentence of seven years in 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, 40, 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 either have been sentenced to drug court probation or are awaiting determination of their drug court applications.
“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. “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.”
“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.”