Alexander DeLuca, M.D.
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Christine Heberle Comments on the Drug Agent Fraud and Misconduct in the Persecution of Pain Doctors and Patients in Erie, PA

Christine Heberle
; Pain and Social Policy listserv of the Pain Relief Network; 2006-05-30. Posted: 2006-05-31.
Related resources:  Drug War Journalism and Advocacy Library 
See also:
Doctor [Heberle] Gains Acquittal -
Lisa Thompson; Erie Times-News; 2006-05-23  
Pain Relief Network in Erie, PA collection -
compiled by Siobhan Reynolds; PRN; 2005-2006
Chronic Pain Politics - index to collections on over 120 persecuted pain doctors - compiled by Cyn Hoard and Our Chronic Pain Mission
WAR ON PAIN SUFFERERS collection #10: Erie - Klees Imprisoned, Heberle Exonerated, Pain Patients Abandoned
War on Doctors/Pain Crisis blog and RSS feed
Heberle Vindicated! - DeLuca; blog entry; 2007-04-14

TO:  The Project for Pain and Chemical Dependency of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain
FROM:  Christine Heberle (wife of Dr. Paul Heberle)

DATE:  2006-05-30

Although it was an important issue, we didn't delve into it to deeply. When opportunity presented it self it was definitely brought out by Paul's attorneys.

Two of Paul's witnesses were brought in mainly for that issue.

Background #1
The woman who lost her care presented to a local ER. That ER doctor consulted Paul, he said he was sending a patient up for detox. When Paul treated the woman it was for chronic pain medication withdrawal. A legitimate chronic pain patient who was labeled for detox. He treated her on the medical floor not in detox.

She was not a chart originally seized through a warrant. The agents went to her and scared her into signing her chart over. They were going to interrupt her scheduled surgery. They also convinced her she must have cancer or the doctor was treating her wrong with Actiq.

She testified to this. Dr. Fisher also examined her briefly and spoke with her.

Dr. Fisher had testified how they took this woman, in clear pain, and prevented her from getting her medications. In fact I think he was "appalled".

In cross exam- the woman came across as scared, meek, and credible. They asked her about the Actiq and cancer. Which she said- I do not have cancer.

On redirect- she was asked if any doctor had ever treated her with Actiq before. She said yes. Her previous 2 doctors had. She was asked how it worked and if she had cancer then. It worked to take the edge of her pain. It never made her high, none of her medication ever made her high. No she has never had cancer. Did Paul treat you any different then your previous 2 doctors? Yes, the medications were the same, but Dr. Heberle always spent time with me. How much time, not including waiting room? Always a more than a half hour every time.

Background #2
A man, the caretaker for an AIDS patient. The man he was taking care of had full blown AIDS and was one of the seized charts. The patient himself could not speak about the misconduct, but his caretaker was present for all encounters. The agents had screamed at the patient and asked inappropriate questions for nearly an hour before the caretaker made the agents leave. The agents would not release this patients extensive medical records until he would agree to come to their office and make a recorded statement. He refused to do so. He could not get care without the records and was moved to a home in another location. The caretaker told me where they were. When the time came and we needed him to testify, I was suppose to call.

When our Attorney's began questioning him-the prosecution objected. He was not on the witness list. Our attorneys argued the patient would be here, but he has end stage AIDS. The judge allowed him to testify. He was more than we expected. He was confident and he wanted the jury to know what the agents did to his friend. When the attorney asked him about the hour of interrogation; objection- sustained. The holding of the records; objection, sustained. Sidebar-the judge would only allow testimony about his duties as a caretaker.

Totally unplanned- this guy who was so together- fell apart, sobbing about how sick his friend was and that Paul was the only person who listened to the patient and the caretaker about his needs. His friend has late stage dementia now and he can't be with him. Everyone was moved to tears, even the security officer had tears running down his cheek. This man clearly loved his friend and this was very painful for him.

On cross the prosecution asked about the pharmacist reporting abuse of his medications and blood in the pharmacy sink. He said (breaking down again) that last year he (the caretaker) was stuck by a needle that his friend had used and hid. It was immediately addressed by Paul. His medications were changed so he was less likely to alter them. the caretaker was also given strict instructions about managing his medications and keeping them out of the patients care. His friend was bleeding all the time. His mouth was full of bloody sores. He could not swallow very well and the pain was so severe. If he used the bathroom, he may have left blood accidentally. He would have wiped it down had he known. He was not easy to deal with. He was dying. The pharmacist was rude and yelling at him. Telling him he was an addict. He wasn't, he was just very sick. They went back to the office and told Paul about the incident. The pharmacist had already called Paul and said something about the amount of medications, the blood in the bathroom, and why did he require such high doses.

The other witnesses were provided by the prosecution. Paul's receptionist, who was terrified by the prosecutor (visibly). She said Paul always saw about 6-8 patients a day. A half hour for established and an hour for new. Some other insignificant questions, but nothing to help them.

Our attorney asked immediately, were you interrogated in the back of a black van at your school. Afraid to answer she said yes. Were you interrogated and threatened anywhere else? At which the prosecution objected to the line of questioning. sustained. He then said, we you so afraid they were going to take your children away that you called a lawyer. Yes. What is the lawyers name. It was you, John Moore.
After Paul's preliminary hearing did an agent follow you outside and threaten you again? Yes. Which agent? Objection-sustained

Another witness they brought forward could have been harmful because he was working with them. Fortunately, he denied that he was. Then our attorney produced 4 separate letters written by him. One about how the agents screamed at him for an hour and a half asking him sexual questions. He said they were the most inappropriate questions he had ever heard. Also, statements about why am I being treated like a criminal. This letter was sent to the Office of Civil Rights. He also had a letter to the pain relief network, the Senator, and one to Paul. All pointing to the outrageous behavior by the agents. The fact they would not release his records unless he gave a recorded statement.

Before the letters could be entered into evidence officially, the prosecutor had to read them. They were hand written. Each averaged 4 pages. When he was done the agent started to read them. He ripped them out of his hands and threw them back to Paul's attorney.

-- Christine Heberle,



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Alexander DeLuca, M.D.

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Originally posted: 2006-05-31

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