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Lawyer: Md. doctor to plead guilty to drug charge

A gynecologist charged with illegally distributing powerful painkillers to patients is expected to plead guilty to federal charges next week.

Dr. John Yacoub, who had practiced gynecology and obstetrics for 30 years in the Baltimore area before surrendering his medical license in November, is likely to enter a guilty plea on May 28 to a single charge of drug possession and distribution, his attorney, Katherine Tang Newberger, said Monday.

Yacoub was charged in March with distributing morphine, oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl, court documents show.

The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended Yacoub’s license in October after a board investigation revealed the physician had been illegally mailing prescription drugs to female patients outside of Maryland for four years. Yacoub voluntarily surrendered his medical license following the suspension.

According to the board’s suspension order, a member of Yacoub’s staff took a photograph of “multiple large bottles” of prescription pills in Yacoub’s office, prompting state and federal agencies to launch an investigation.

During a 2013 raid of Yacoub’s home, Drug Enforcement Administration agents discovered several bottles of painkillers, as well as numerous images of female genitalia on Yacoub’s cellphone.

No charges have been filed in connection with those images, which Newberger said “were entirely misunderstood,” and “medical in nature regarding a procedure he had pioneered.”

Yacoub opened his practice in 1986. He also served as the director of minimally invasive surgery centers at both Greater Baltimore Medical Center and St. Agnes Hospital.

Newberger said Yacoub was writing prescriptions “for his girlfriend and two other people who were largely filling the prescriptions for his girlfriend,” adding that the scheme “was not for monetary gain.”

Newberger said the plea agreement has not yet been finalized, and more details, such as a potential sentence, would be available after his court appearance.

“He was extremely successful and extremely well liked,” Newberger said. “This has been an incredible fall from grace.”

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