RIVERSIDE, Calif. – LAWFUEL – An Murrieta psychiatrist whose medical license was recently suspended was arrested this morning on federal narcotics distribution charges for allegedly writing prescriptions for powerful and addictive painkillers to people he did not examine and who paid him $100 for the prescriptions.
Joel Stanley Dreyer, 70, was arrested without incident this morning by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The arrest was pursuant to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court here that charges Dreyer with unlawfully distributing controlled substances, including Oxycodone (marketed as Oxycontin and Percocet) and Hydrocodone (marketed as Vicodin).
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Dreyer drew the attention of law enforcement when a former patient who had been prescribed Oxycontin died on Christmas Day in 2005 after overdosing on a combination of prescription medications. The dead woman’s brother went to Dreyer in November 2006 and quickly was prescribed painkillers and sleeping pills. The brother then contacted authorities.
Following the death of the patient, authorities – including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Medical Board, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and the Murrieta Police Department – conducted undercover operations at Dreyer’s office. Law enforcement agents posed as people seeking drugs, and Dreyer allegedly wrote prescriptions after brief visits and receiving a $100 fee.
During the recorded undercover meetings, Dreyer did not examine or take medical histories from the undercover agents. Dreyer prescribed narcotic pain medications despite the undercover agents’ statements that they were not experiencing significant pain or that they were seeking narcotic prescription medications on behalf of others.
Dreyer also allegedly prescribed anti-anxiety medications such as Alprazolam (marketed as Xanax) to agents who informed him that they did not suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but that they wanted the medication to “relax” or “decompress.”
Dreyer steered the undercover agents away from certain pharmacies which he believed more closely monitored prescriptions for the addictive medications Dreyer prescribed, according to the affidavit.
Authorities executed a search warrant at Dreyer’s office and residence in July 2007. They found documents indicating that from 2005 to 2007 Dreyer wrote prescriptions for more than 37,000 doses of Xanax, more than 68,000 tablets of Norco (which contains Hydrocodone), and thousands of doses of other Schedule II controlled substances.
“The abuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem throughout our country,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. “Currently, 6 million Americans are abusing controlled substance prescription drugs – more than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. In 2004 alone, approximately 500,000 emergency room visits were attributed to the non-medical use of prescription pain killers. Unfortunately, there are a few doctors such as Dr. Dreyer using their position of trust in our communities to prey on those who are vulnerable to the abuse of these drugs. “
Dreyer was arrested this morning at the Riverside County Courthouse in Murrieta, where he was making an appearance on state charges alleging that he illegally prescribed medications in violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Dreyer is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
The charge contained in the criminal complaint carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The federal investigation of Dreyer was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Murrieta Police Department, the California Medical Board and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Joseph N. Akrotirianakis
Riverside Branch Office
Release No. 08-016