Kentucky doctor charged in patients' deaths pleads not guilty

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 5:04 PM

By Steve Bittenbender

LOUISVILLE, KY. (Reuters) - A Kentucky doctor charged in the deaths of five patients pleaded not guilty on Friday in federal court to charges that he unlawfully distributed pain medications.

Jaime Guerrero, 47, was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond at his arraignment in Louisville, according to a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office. As part of his release, he had to surrender his passport and his Drug Enforcement Agency registration number, which allows him to prescribe drugs.

Guerrero was indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Kentucky on 32 counts, including dispensing Oxycodone, Methadone and Hydrocodone to patients without a legitimate need, prosecutors said. 

Prosecutors say Guerrero illegally prescribed medications to 30 patients from December 2009 to last May. Five patients died between 2010 and 2012.

Guerrero's plea comes one day after the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure issued an emergency order indefinitely suspending his license because of the charges against him. His license also has been suspended in Indiana.

His trial is scheduled to start on March 31. Guerrero faces life in prison if he's convicted.

Guerrero's attorney, Scott Cox, was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Sandra Maler)