Pennsylvania doctor accused of setting up 'commune' for drugs and sex with patients

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A Clarion County psychiatrist who investigators said is the country's one-time largest purchaser and distributor of the painkiller Subutex, as well as Pennsylvania's largest for the prescription drugs Adderall and Ritalin, was charged Tuesday with overprescribing medicine and related crimes.

Agents from the Pennsylvania attorney general's office arrested Thomas Radecki, 67, and accused him of operating an "income-sharing commune" where authorities said he had sexual relationships with several of his patients and gave some access to drugs, money and patient files.

A grand jury investigating his distribution and prescribing practices recommended the charges be filed Tuesday, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office.

Dr. Radecki's attorney, John Patrick Troese, is on vacation, a secretary at his office said. He could not be reached for comment.

Investigators estimated that in 2011 and 2012 Dr. Radecki bought and distributed more than 183,000 doses of Subutex, 19,000 doses of Adderall and 28,000 doses of Ritalin -- medicine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

According to the grand jury, the evidence showed that many patients did not need or use the medications the doctor sold. The patients resold the drugs in communities near the psychiatrist's four clinics in Clarion, Venango, McKean and Clearfield counties, which had a program commonly used to treat those addicted to opiates and which closed in 2012, investigators said.

Dr. Radecki operated clinics under the name "Doctors and Lawyers for a Drug Free Youth," according to the grand jury.

He is charged with 13 counts of prescribing outside accepted treatment principles, four counts of provider prohibited acts, two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of dealing in unlawful proceeds, one count of theft by deception and one count of insurance fraud.

He was arraigned Tuesday morning and released on bail.

Several agencies started investigating Dr. Radecki's actions in spring 2011 and executed search warrants in June 2012. In a total of 20 searches, authorities seized patient files, drugs and more than $465,000 in proceeds from Dr. Radecki's practice.

Investigators also allege that Dr. Radecki routinely prescribed drug cocktails "outside of the accepted treatment principles for doctors" and gave female patients who lived with him and worked at his clinics access to patient files, money, Subutex and other controlled substances.

One of the women in Dr. Radecki's self-described "income-sharing commune," investigators said, was treated as a patient throughout their sexual relationship -- then gave birth to the doctor's child in 2012.

The grand jury also found that Dr. Radecki installed a video surveillance system inside his Clarion office and inside the treatment room, which showed him having what investigators described as inappropriate contact with a female patient.

Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine documents show that Dr. Radecki has had a checkered history in the medical field:

In 1991, officials said, Dr. Radecki had sex three times in a 10-day period with a female former patient he treated in Illinois for substance abuse. The woman notified the Illinois State Board of Medicine, and the following year his license was revoked for a minimum of five years.

"Respondent recognized that what he did was unethical and violated major boundary issues, central to his psychiatric profession," according to one disciplinary record.

Two months after the violation, and four months before his license was revoked, Dr. Radecki voluntarily sought psychiatric help and continued those sessions "bi-weekly over the past sixteen plus years," according to a 2007 document. None of the four psychiatrists who saw him over that time suggested he had nothing more than a "adjustment disorder."

While his licence was revoked, Dr. Radecki started the program "Doctors and Lawyers for Drug Free Youth" and helped 10 states get grants for enforcement programs.

In 1996, the director of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation issued a cease and desist order that arose from allegations that the doctor "held himself out to be a practicing physician."

Two years later, he received his law degree.

In May 2002, that department restored his license on a probationary period.

In September 2007, the doctor's license to practice in Pennsylvania was placed on probation to run concurrent with that probation in Illinois.

State police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Clarion police, Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron, his drug task force, and Ridgeway and New Bethlehem police aided in the investigation.

breaking - region - health

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-23-1944. First Published August 20, 2013 2:00 PM


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