April 23, 2012
A Liberty Township surgeon on Friday admitted to forging his coworkers’ signatures to write himself prescriptions in order to support his drug addiction.
Paul Stresthadatta, 41, pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug, according to Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Traci Whittaker. His attorney had applied for a court program for first-time felony offenders that would have seen the charges dropped if he completed drug treatment and other conditions, but a judge ruled he was not eligible because one of the charges is a third-degree felony, said Prosecutor Carol O’Brien.
Prosecutors dismissed 26 other charges as part of a plea deal. Stresthadatta is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29.
Stresthadatta, an attending surgeon at Grant Medical Center and Doctors Hospital in Columbus, began taking Percocet in 2009 for legitimate medical reasons, but eventually became addicted, according to his attorney, Stephen H. Palmer.
He began forging his co-workers’ names on prescriptions when his own ran out. Stresthadatta has enrolled in a drug treatment program in order to get his medical license back; the Ohio State Medical Board suspended it after Stresthadatta admitted to co-workers that he had forged their names.