PERRY DOCTOR TURNS HIMSELF IN

27 Jul 2004
By Becky Purser
Telegraph Staff Writer

PERRY - A Perry doctor indicted two weeks ago for murder in the deaths of six people turned himself in Monday to Houston County authorities.

Dr. Spurgeon Green was indicted July 13 by a Houston County grand jury on the murder charges, including the death of a Jesup man. He also faces a murder charge in Wayne County for that death, but the case may be consolidated with Houston County's.

Green has been free on a $250,000 bond since charges against him were filed last year in Wayne County in the death of Wayne Barbari, 40, of Jesup.

A bond hearing on the Houston County charges is scheduled for Thursday in Houston County Superior Court in Perry.

Green, a certified pain specialist, is accused of prescribing various pain medications to the six people without a legitimate medical purpose, resulting in their deaths.

Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said Monday he will oppose bond, which he said is the normal practice for anyone charged with murder. He declined to elaborate on the grounds the state will seek to have bond denied.

Green was originally expected to turn himself in last week, but the state worked with Green's attorneys and agreed to allow Green to turn himself in Monday, said Burke.

"I understand that he (the district attorney) will oppose the bond, and we certainly will seek to establish that Dr. Green is worthy of bond," said O. Hale Almand Jr., a Macon attorney representing Green.

Almand declined to specify the grounds on which the bond will be sought, whether he will call witnesses on Green's behalf or to elaborate on the case. Althea L. Buafo, a Macon attorney also representing Green, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Almand previously told The Telegraph that "Dr. Green's treatment of his patients is consistent with acceptable medical practices as will be clearly demonstrated at his trial on the indictment."

Warner Robins City Councilman Grady Clemonts said Monday he is willing, if asked, to take the stand on Green's behalf at the bond hearing. Clemonts testified at Green's bond hearing in Jesup last year.

"I don't believe Dr. Green would do anything to harm anybody," said Clemonts, who had been a patient of Green's since 1991. Before he lost his license, Green had prescribed blood pressure medicine for him, said Clemonts.

"What I know about him is he's a caring doctor," Clemonts said. "If he's not sure of your condition, he'd send you for a second opinion."

The Rev. Jeffery Walker of Warner Robins also is a supporter of Green. "We still support Dr. Green, and we still believe that when all the facts and all the evidence are tried, he will be exonerated," Walker said Monday.

The death of Barbari in April 2003 led to the first murder indictment, issued in Wayne County. Green also is accused of killing Elmer Lee Teal Jr., 46, of Warner Robins; Belinda Kay Maya, 46, of Houston County; Melissa Marl Allen, 29, of Savannah; James Eugene Carr, 49, of Macon; and Thomas Edward Bacigalupo, 44, of Warner Robins.

Burke also said he has not reached a decision yet on whether he will seek the death penalty.



DEATH PENALTY POSSIBLE FOR PAIN SPECIALIST

27 Jul 2004
Macon Telegraph (GA)

Perry doctor turns himself in
By Becky Purser
Telegraph Staff Writer

PERRY - A Perry doctor indicted two weeks ago for murder in the deaths of six people turned himself in Monday to Houston County authorities.

Dr. Spurgeon Green was indicted July 13 by a Houston County grand jury on the murder charges, including the death of a Jesup man. He also faces a murder charge in Wayne County for that death, but the case may be consolidated with Houston County's.

Green has been free on a $250,000 bond since charges against him were filed last year in Wayne County in the death of Wayne Barbari, 40, of Jesup.

A bond hearing on the Houston County charges is scheduled for Thursday in Houston County Superior Court in Perry.

Green, a certified pain specialist, is accused of prescribing various pain medications to the six people without a legitimate medical purpose, resulting in their deaths.



ATTORNEY SAYS PERRY DOCTOR CHARGED WITH MURDER IS INNOCENT

WARNER ROBINS - A Perry doctor indicted for murder in the deaths of six people is innocent and will prevail in court, his attorney said Wednesday. Dr. Spurgeon Green was indicted Tuesday by a Houston County grand jury on the murder charges, including the death of a Jesup man. He also faces a murder charge in Wayne County for that death but the case may be consolidated with Houston County's.

"This indictment is another of many that are occurring nationwide involving doctors who specialize in treating chronic pain," said O. Hale Almand Jr., a Macon attorney representing Green. "Dr. Green's treatment of his patients is consistent with acceptable medical practices as will be clearly demonstrated at his trial on the indictment," Almand said. Green is accused of prescribing varied pain medications to the six people without a legitimate medical purpose, resulting in their deaths.

More than a dozen different drugs were spelled out in the indictment, including OxyContin, Xanax and diazepam. Almand said that the prescription of pain medications for chronic pain sufferers is widely misunderstood.

"It's unfortunate that ( Green ) has to go through this but thankfully, under our system of justice, he will have his day in court and establish his innocence," said Almand.

The names of the people who died were included in the indictment. They were James Eugene Carr, Elmer Lee Teal Jr., Belinda Kay Maya, Melissa Marl Allen, Thomas Edward Bacigalupo and David Barbari. No other information, including age or where they were from, was included in the indictment, and Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke did not release any other information about them Wednesday.

The death of Barbari in April 2003 led to the first murder indictment, issued in Wayne County. Burke said Wednesday he hoped that the DA's offices in both counties would be able to reach an agreement on which jurisdiction would prosecute the Barbari case. But if brought before a judge to settle the issue, Burke said he would argue that the unlawful prescribing of the medications - the underlying felony for the charges of felony murder - took place in Houston County. Felony murder is when someone dies in the commission of another felony crime. Green had not surrendered himself late Wednesday to Houston County authorities under the indictment for the new charges.

Almand said he will work out a time with Burke in which Green will surrender. Almand said he would seek bond for Green, while Burke said he would oppose it. Green has been free on a $250,000 bond since charges against him were filed last year in Wayne County. His state license to practice medicine was revoked three days after his arrest last August on the Wayne County charge. Sgt. Wayne Franklin, the lead Houston County sheriff's investigator on the case, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Franklin's investigation spanned three years.








Victims' families shocked by Green's indictment


Telegraph Staff Writer
By Julie Hubbard

WARNER ROBINS - 16 Jul 2004 It was hard enough getting over the death of her first-born son Elmer, who died of a drug overdose three years ago, Julia Teal said on Thursday.

But now this. Now she's having to relive those memories and all those emotions after hearing news reports this week that a Perry doctor who specialized in the treatment of chronic pain had been indicted by a grand jury for Elmer's death.

"It's a total shock, a slap in the face," said Teal, 69, of Warner Robins. "I hadn't gotten over losing him. You see (reports) he was murdered. You don't know what to think."

Dr. Spurgeon Green is alleged to have prescribed Xanax, OxyContin and other pain medications without any justified medical reason, to Elmer and five other victims. The drugs eventually led to their deaths, according to the indictment.

The names, addresses and birthdays of the alleged victims were released Thursday by the Houston County District Attorney's Office.

They include:

  • Elmer Lee Teal Jr., a disabled, former auto-mechanic, of 211 Sunstede Road, Warner Robins, who died Jan. 19, 2001, at age 46.

  • Belinda Kay Maya, a licensed practical nurse, of 135 Elaine Drive, Red Fox Run Mobile Home Park, Lot 88, in Houston County, who died June 19, 2002, at age 46.

  • Thomas Edward Bacigalupo, a disabled man, of 626 Gawin Drive, in Warner Robins, who died Jan. 14, 2003, at Houston Medical Center at age 44.

  • Melissa Allen, of 201 Quacco Road, Lot 1190, in Savannah, who died sometime after Sept. 10, 2002 at about age 30.

  • James Eugene Carr, of 5405 Houston Road, Lot 38, in Macon, who died Dec. 14, 2001, at age 49.

  • David Wayne Barbari, of Four Seasons Apartments, No. 10, in Jesup, who died in April 2003 at age 40.



Julia Teal and Belinda Kay Maya's family said Thursday they were never notified of the Green case and still didn't know what to think.

"No one knows there was an investigation," said Bill Swinford of Bonaire. He is Maya's older brother and works as a sales manager at Warner Robins Ford Lincoln Mercury.

"I was having my morning coffee, reading the paper. ... What really caught my attention was one of the names (of the alleged victims) was the son of an employee, and then I read on down and read my sister's name.

"To say I was shocked was an understatement," said Swinford.

Maya took medicine for her severe back pain after she fell a few years earlier, Swinford said. He said he was unaware of Maya getting prescriptions from Dr. Green.

"We were all shocked (by her death)," he said. "There was a lot of question about it. One of my sisters was convinced there was something to it."

The family was told Maya had had congestive heart failure, Swinford said. Her death certificate, obtained Thursday by The Telegraph from the Houston County Probate Court, lists her cause of death as "morphine toxicity" from an "overdose of medicine."

Swinford had recalled seeing the stories in the newspaper about Green's first indictment a year ago, but never thought anything about his sister, he said.

"Obviously, if this has happened, the grand jury indictment, I think there's some merit to this (case)," he said. "There's no excuse for abuse on any side."

Maya left behind a grown daughter, who lives in Florida, and a teenage stepson living in Warner Robins, Swinford said.

According to Julia Teal, Elmer left behind a 21-year-old son of Warner Robins.

Elmer, she said, had been sick with heart problems when he died, but she was unaware of his visits with Green. His death certificate, obtained Thursday, lists his cause of death as "drug intoxication" from an "ingestion of multiple drugs."

"He was my number one, first-born. That was the way he signed everything he gave me," Julia said. "I want (Green) off the street."

According to Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke, Green will be allowed to turn himself in next week at a bond hearing that has not yet been set.

It was the death of Barbari in April 2003 that led to Green's first murder indictment issued in Wayne County. After a lengthy law enforcement investigation, Green was indicted Tuesday by a Houston County grand jury on six murder charges and 29 charges of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances or dangerous drugs.

Green's attorney, O. Hale Almand Jr. of Macon, said Wednesday that his client is innocent and that, "Dr. Green's treatment of his patients is consistent with acceptable medical practices as will be clearly demonstrated at his trial on the indictment."






Perry doctor now faces six murder charges

By Bill Weaver
Telegraph Staff Writer

Posted on Wed, Jul. 14, 2004 PERRY - A Perry doctor accused last year of murder in the death of a Jesup man now faces six counts of murder, plus numerous drug charges, following his indictment Tuesday by a Houston County grand jury.

Dr. Spurgeon Green, charged with one count of murder last August in Wayne County, is accused by Houston County authorities of six counts of felony murder, 24 counts of unlawful prescribing of a controlled substance and five counts of unlawful prescribing or ordering of a dangerous drug.

The hometowns of the six people allegedly killed by Green were not spelled out in the indictment.

Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said late Tuesday he could not immediately recall the locations of the people, but he said they were from various locations in Georgia. According to the indictment, their names were James Eugene Carr, Elmer Lee Teal Jr., Belinda Kay Maya, Melissa Marl Allen, Thomas Edward Bacigalupo and David Barbari.

Barbari, of Jesup, is the person Green was accused of killing in Wayne County. Burke said he's been working with Wayne County authorities, and a judge will decide which county prosecutes Green for Barbari's death, which occurred in April 2003.

The indictment accuses Green of unlawfully prescribing various drugs to the six people without a legitimate medical purpose, causing their deaths. The drugs varied from person to person, but included OxyContin, methadone and diazepam, as well as other drugs. Some were classified as controlled substances, others were merely called dangerous drugs.

Several of the drug charges stem from additional prescriptions, on other dates, given to the same people who died. Other drug charges involve different individuals named in the indictment but not identified by address.

Burke said the drug charges involve people from several locations in the Southeast, not just Georgia. The indictment alleges the crimes took place in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Burke said a jury would have to decide whether the medications Green allegedly prescribed illegally were excessive, or whether the individuals should have been getting the medications at all.

He said the indictments "were the result of a very in-depth, thorough investigation, primarily by the (Houston County) sheriff's office, with assistance from other agencies." He called it a "very complicated" investigation.

Green's state license to practice medicine was suspended three days after he was charged in Wayne County. A few weeks after his arrest there, Green was released from jail after posting a $250,000 bond. Green is a pain specialist who had been in private practice for nearly 30 years.

Burke said that with Green's new indictments here, the physician will be rearrested. Burke said Tuesday evening that had not yet happened, but would happen soon.

Green's attorney, O. Hale Almand Jr. of Macon, said when contacted at his home Tuesday evening that he was not aware of the additional charges against Green.

"It's news to me," Almand said. He said he would have no comment until he investigated what had transpired.

Burke said he had not yet made a decision about the type of penalty he would seek if Green is convicted of murder, but the death penalty is an option.

"We've got that decision to make," he said.







Another Pain Doctor Charged With Murder





The persecution of doctors specializing in pain management with opioids has claimed another victim. Dr. Spurgeon Green Jr., of Perry, GA, was indicted for murder July 22 in the April death of one of his patients. Green, a certified pain specialist who has been practicing since 1974, sits in the Wayne County Jail awaiting a bond hearing this week.

He is charged in the death of David Barbari, 41, who died of a drug overdose after being prescribed opioid pain relievers by Dr. Green. The indictment resulted from a combined investigation among the Houston County and Wayne County sheriff's offices and the Houston County District Attorney's Office. He is charged with felony murder, or murder resulting from the commission of another felony, in this case improperly prescribing opioid pain relievers.

Results from that investigation were apparently fed to the State Board of Medical Examiners, which used it suspend his license to practice medicine on July 24, the Macon Telegraph reported. The medical board said that six more of Green's patients died of drug overdoses or multiple drug intoxication. It also claimed that some 300 of Green's patients were "known drug users or persons with drug-related criminal histories," that some of them resold drugs he prescribed, and that he prescribed "in the absence of substantial justification."

Green's attorney O. Hale Almand Jr., told the Telegraph he suspected the allegations made by the board are based on the criminal investigations, which have yet to prove anything against Green. "This document is a travesty because it makes accusations but does not support them," said Almand. "I'm waiting for anyone to prove any of that because I don't think it can be proven." Green is innocent of all charges, Almand said. Doctors cannot control whether a patient abuses prescribed drugs, he added.

Dr. Green is but the latest of at least 30 physicians who have been prosecuted nationwide in recent years for their pain prescription practices. At least two other physicians, Dr. Frank Fisher in California and Dr. Robert Weitzel in Utah, were charged with murder in similar cases. In both of those cases, however, the criminal prosecutions collapsed after courts heard testimony from pain management experts who testified their practices were in line with contemporary medical standards. A Florida physician, Dr. James Graves, was convicted of manslaughter last year and is currently serving a 63-year prison sentence.

According to the Dallas Morning News, where a similar case against Dr. Daniel Maynard is underway, prosecutors across the country are networking with the prosecutors in the Graves case to find ways to make criminal charges stick against pain doctors. Similar investigations are under way in South Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona and California, the paper reported.

According to the Macon Telegraph, Dr. Green's patients have been calling the newspaper to offer their support. One of them, the Rev. Jeffrey Walker, an associate pastor at Bethel AME in Macon and a member of Fellowship Bible Baptist Church in Warner Robins, told the paper patients, not physicians, should be accountable for abusing prescriptions. "I believe in my heart that Dr. Green has never done anything wrong," Walker said. "I've got to believe in my heart that he's going to be exonerated."





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