Jorge Martinez signed letter envelope set

Jorge Martinez signed letter envelope set


A Bath Township physician was sentenced to life in prison because the massive doses of painkillers he prescribed led to the deaths of two patients.

Dr. Jorge Martinez's conviction under a statute punishing health-care fraud resulting in death was the first in the country, as was his life sentence, U.S. Attorney Greg White said.

Martinez remained adamant in federal court in Cleveland that he did the best he could to treat desperate patients whose lives were consumed by chronic pain. Patients often came to his clinics in Parma and Boardman wailing in pain, he said.

"There was nothing else but to numb those nerves," Martinez said. "The responsibility I had was to treat the patient."

But U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent told Martinez his prescriptions of OxyContin, Zoloft and Valium caused more harm than good.

"People came to you in desperation," Nugent said. "You continued to prescribe medication that would continue that downward spiral."

The packed courtroom erupted in applause when Nugent announced the sentence. Relatives of the two dead men, John "Jack" Lancaster and Blair Knight, wiped tears and hugged prosecutors.

 After a five-week trial, a jury convicted Martinez of 56 charges, including health care fraud resulting in death, health care fraud and distribution of a controlled substance.

Martinez prescribed painkillers only after patients agreed to receive injections to treat pain, Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Betzer said. Martinez could then bill Medicare, Medicaid, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and private insurers for the injections.

Martinez submitted paperwork claiming he routinely saw more than 100 patients a day from 1998 through 2004, prosecutors said.

He gave patients only cursory exams but billed insurers for sophisticated treatment, prosecutors said. He submitted $60 million in fraudulent claims to insurers and received payment on about $12 million - half of which came from the BWC.

Some of the 2,500 patients Martinez saw became addicted to the painkillers he prescribed. Martinez ignored the symptoms and continued prescribing more.

"The defendant pumped people full of pills, jabbed them with needles and lied to insurers solely to get rich," Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Hearey said. "And people died."

Jurors ruled that in the cases of Lancaster, 42, of Parma Heights, and Knight, 35, of Ravenna, those prescriptions contributed to their deaths.

Knight's brother was relieved by Nugent's sentence.

"I'm thankful he's gone for life," Chuck Knight said of Martinez. "I'm glad he can't hurt anyone else."

The letter and envelope are both handwritten. The letter is signed, Jorge.

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