Joel Dreyer, California psychiatrist, taken into custody by FBI agents, federal drug charges

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City News Service
By Paul Young
March 12, 2008

Psychiatrist Joel Dryer

Psychiatrist Joel Dryer

A Murrieta psychiatrist accused of violating federal drug laws for allegedly prescribing pain medications without performing the required medical exams is scheduled to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

Joel Stanley Dreyer faces federal narcotics distribution charges for allegedly making prescription opiates like OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, available to patients in return for a $100 fee — and free of any diagnostic procedures, according to prosecutors.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has also charged Dreyer with multiple felony counts of filling false prescriptions.

The 70-year-old psychiatrist, whose license to practice medicine in California has been suspended, was arrested in July on state charges, posted bail, then was taken into custody by FBI agents on Feb. 14 while appearing for a scheduled hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Akrotirianakis said the defendant is free on a $50,000 federal bond but must wear an electronic ankle bracelet with GPS tracking technology at all times.

“He can go to the doctor, attend religious services and meet with his lawyer, but in all instances he is restricted to traveling within the Central District of California,” which includes Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties, Akrotirianakis said.

He said between December 2005 and last summer, it’s believed Dreyer wrote thousands of prescriptions for painkillers and anti-anxiety pills.

A joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, California Medical Board, California Department of Justice and Murrieta Police Department got under way after one of the doctor’s former patients died from an overdose of OxyContin on Christmas Day 2005, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The victim’s brother, apparently conducting his own investigation, went to Dreyer for painkillers and sleeping aids, which the doctor allegedly prescribed without hesitation, or even a cursory exam, according to the complaint.

Undercover law enforcement agents, posing as patients, visited Dreyer’s Murrieta office in 2006 and 2007, allegedly telling him they did not suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but still wanted something to help them “relax and decompress,” the complaint stated.

Some agents requested pain-relieving narcotics — while admitting they were not in any significant pain — and, in both instances, were given what they asked for, according to the complaint.

“Even though they indicated they were not experiencing serious pain, or were actually seeking the drug for another person, they were prescribed the pills in exchange for $100 cash payments,” Akrotirianakis said.

Dreyer is expected to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Oswald Perata at 3 p.m.

If he’s convicted on the federal charges, the doctor could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

He is scheduled to appear for a felony settlement conference at the county courthouse in Murrieta on April 1.

Joel Dreyer

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