A prosecutor is recommending that the doctor serve five years in prison.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A 67-year-old Newton Falls physician pleaded guilty to 19 counts of drug trafficking and gave up his medical license.
Dr. Pedro Yap, who lives in Warren but practiced in Newton Falls, entered the plea Tuesday before Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Yap, who sobbed during most of the court's proceedings, will be sentenced after a background check by the county adult probation department.
Trumbull County deputy sheriffs said Yap was providing prescriptions of OxyContin to patients who did not have a medical reason to obtain the addictive painkiller.
Investigators said the doctor was writing prescriptions for two patients he saw on a regular basis and for some people who were not seen by him.
Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor, said Yap voluntarily relinquished his medical license.
Yap could receive up to 19 years in prison. Becker, however, said he is going to recommend that Yap be given a five-year sentence. Yap was indicted on the charges last year, after deputies said they searched the doctor's office twice and seized records.
Investigators said they believed that Yap was being paid to give the prescriptions.
Sheriff Thomas Altiere said that in July 1999, Yap wrote "very few prescriptions for the drug, but in April 2000 he prescribed more than 4,000 pills of OxyContin."
According to Aceology Medical Review, OxyContin is a pain medicine approved for patients who have to be on a painkiller for an extended period. Altiere said the drug is often prescribed to cancer patients.
OxyContin is made by Purdue Pharma L.P. of Connecticut and is the controlled release form of oxycodone. Swallowing broken, chewed or crushed OxyContin tablets could lead to a toxic dose of oxycodone, authorities said.
Deputies said OxyContin has a street price here of $40 per pill.