Doctor convicted on drug charges
Dr. Barry Odegaard wrongfully prescribed a painkiller, jurors say
A federal jury found Honolulu physician Dr. Barry Odegaard guilty yesterday of prescribing the powerful painkiller oxycodone outside the course of professional medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The jury convicted Odegaard, 56, of improperly dispensing oxycodone on five occasions from August to December 2004. He had been charged with 13 counts.
Jonathan Loo, assistant U.S. attorney, said a cooperating witness made audio and video recordings of incidents that led to the five counts on which the jury found Odegaard guilty and others on which he was acquitted.
Odegaard faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the five counts when he is sentenced Oct. 14, Loo said.
In the meantime he remains free on $50,000 bond and can continue his medical practice. However, he cannot prescribe drugs.
Two of the counts for which the jury found Odegaard not guilty involved prescribing oxycodone and methadone, another powerful painkiller, which resulted in the deaths of two people.
After the prosecution and defense completed presenting their cases, U.S. District Judge David Ezra amended the charges after finding there was not enough evidence to support the claim that Odegaard's actions resulted in the deaths.
Had the jury found him guilty of the original charges, Odegaard would have faced prison sentences of 20 years to life, Loo said.
Ezra also dismissed five counts of Medicaid fraud.
Loo said the government initiated a case against Odegaard after it received information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Narcotics Enforcement Division and the city Department of the Medical Examiner.
Odegaard is facing a lawsuit in state court over the death of a third person. The lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of the children of a man who died in May 2005.
The lawsuit says the man died from an overdose of oxycodone and OxyContin prescribed by Odegaard to treat depression.