The Miami Herald
MEDICAL LICENSE SUSPENDED OVER DRUGS, SEX WITH TEEN
By Donna Gehrke
June 23, 1991
As an appeals court sees it, Miami Shores psychiatrist Nestor Garcia would be a danger to the public if he continued practicing medicine:
He is hooked on Demerol and refuses to acknowledge his addiction.
He “seduced” a teen-age patient, helped her escape from a psychiatric ward — and shared Demerol with her in a motel room.
That was enough for Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal to uphold an emergency suspension of Garcia’s medical license.
But Garcia’s attorney, Harold Braxton, who received the decision this week, said the court has the wrong opinion of his client.
Braxton said the former body builder is an “extremely bright” Columbia University-trained psychiatrist. He once was addicted to Demerol but is now drug-free.
The alleged incident with the girl, Braxton said, was not a factor in the Florida Department of Professional Regulation’s suspension of Garcia’s license. The Board of Medicine must decide whether the doctor should lose it permanently.
Criminal charges against Garcia were dropped two months after the Broward County Sheriff’s Office arrested him in January 1989 for aiding an escapee and sexual activity with a child.
Said Braxton: “What does that tell you?”
Nevertheless, the medical regulatory agency concluded in a letter written last fall that Dr. Garcia had sex with “L.W.,” a 16-year-old patient who was being treated by the psychiatrist after she tried to kill herself.
In October 1988, she escaped from the psychiatric unit of Memorial Hospital in Hollywood — with the help of Dr. Garcia and an unidentified staff member, the Department of Professional Regulation alleged.
For a month, the agency claimed, the two had “numerous sexual encounters together” and shot up Demerol on the day he was arrested.
Garcia denied all charges.
In April 1990, he voluntarily entered Mount Sinai Medical Center’s chemical dependency unit. He said he had taken Demerol because of migraine headaches.
He later transferred to two out-of-state drug treatment centers — with both observing in Dr. Garcia a “significant anti-social personality disorder” and a “consistently displayed level of dangerousness.”
Both programs concluded he shouldn’t return to medicine.
A West Palm Beach doctor who examined him for the Department of Professional Regulation in January said Garcia had “sociopathic personality traits.”
“He expressed no regret for any of his actions. He showed no remorse or guilt,” Dr. Neville Marks wrote. “He did not question his judgment except for having a sexual relationship with a former patient of his, which judgment he modified by vaguely implying he did not know the law.”
Garcia briefly used steroids as a teen-ager, and his weight jumped for 132 to 198 pounds while he worked out intensely, said Dr. William Schmidt of the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Schmidt recommended that Garcia be forbidden from practicing medicine.
The regulatory agency agreed and in February ordered Garcia to stop, pending the Board of Medicine ruling on whether he should lose his license permanently. The board of medicine has held a hearing on Garcia and is expected to rule in about a month.
Last week, the appeals court ruled that the Department of Professional Regulation acted correctly.
“Garcia was, and apparently is still, addicted to Demerol,” the court said in a three-page decision.
But the doctor’s attorney said the three appeals judges used inaccurate information from the regulatory agency — and his client will continue to fight to practice medicine.
Other doctors who have kicked drug habits have been treated much more leniently than Garcia has, Braxton added.
“He’s just a very bright doctor who wants to get on with his life,” he said.