Suspended Physician Pleads Guilty To Federal Drug Charge; Admits Exchanging Thousands Of Prescription Doses For Sex
CHICAGO ― A suspended physician formerly affiliated with three Chicago hospitals pleaded guilty today to a federal charge of illegally distributing a prescription drug in exchange for sex in 2009. The defendant, JOSHUA D. BARON, a pediatric neurologist, also admitted that he provided approximately 149 prescriptions for controlled substance medications, totaling thousands of doses, to 16 individuals in exchange for sex between 2006 and 2011. These individuals were never patients of Baron, they never visited his office as a patient, and he never asked them about medical issues, took their medical history, conducted an examination, or attempted to diagnose them.
Baron, 40, of Forest Park and formerly of Oak Park, remains free on his own recognizance pending sentencing on June 30 by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and his plea agreement provides for an advisory sentencing guidelines range of 108 to 135 months in prison, according to the government’s calculation.
Baron was initially charged by the state in January 2011 after an undercover investigation by the Wilmette Police Department. He was charged federally in October 2011 following a broader investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Chicago Police Department.
Baron was licensed in Illinois in May 2006 and, until January 2011, treated patients at Rush University Medical Center, John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County, and St. Anthony=s Hospital, all in Chicago. He voluntarily surrendered his medical license and his DEA registration in 2011.
According to his written plea agreement, between 2006 and 2011, Baron dispensed prescriptions for controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose in exchange for sex and/or money. He admitted posting at least 78 advertisements offering to trade various prescription drugs on the website Craigslist.com, and all of the ads were placed under the sections, “Men Who Would Pay” and “Casual Encounters.”
Through these prescriptions, Baron dispensed to the 16 individuals the following controlled substances and amounts: 1,680 pills Adderall, 1,830 pills of Norco, 180 pills of Percocet, 1,710 pills of Xanax, 270 pills of Vicodin, 180 pills of Demerol, 90 pills of Dilaudid, 120 pills of Focalin, 150 pills of Phentermine, 30 pills of Klonopin, and 15 pills of morphine sulfate.
In January, the Wilmette police conducted an undercover sting that led to Baron=s arrest when he arrived at a specified location, allegedly expecting to trade a prescription for Adderall with a fictitious woman in exchange for sex.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Jack Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the DEA=s Chicago Field Division. The Wilmette Police Department, the Chicago Police Department Organized Crime Division=s narcotics and gang section, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation assisted in the investigation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Bell.