Former Manahawkin MD Busted in 2014 for Illegal Opioid Distribution Now Permanently Barred from Prescribing Drugs in NJ

By Victoria Ford | Oct 09, 2019

Stafford Township — Former family physician Liviu Holca ­– a medical doctor in Manahawkin prior to his 2014 arrest and 2016 conviction for illegally distributing opioid painkillers – has been permanently banned from prescribing drugs in New Jersey, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.

Following his arrest on charges of illegal drug distribution, money laundering and weapons offenses in connection with his medical practice – at a time when Ocean County’s opioid overdose death rates were among the highest in the state, the OAG noted – Holca’s license was temporarily suspended, and he has been barred from practicing medicine since that time.

Holca pleaded guilty in 2016 to illegal drug distribution and money laundering. He was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service and made to hand over almost $300,000, according to the OAG.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Holca’s “reckless prescribing of opioids helped fuel an addiction crisis that Ocean County is still struggling to overcome. The permanent revocation of his CDS prescribing privileges may offer little consolation to the families who lost loved ones to the addiction epidemic he helped create and perpetuate, but it ensures he will never again be an illegal source of dangerous, habit-forming prescription drugs in Ocean County or anywhere else in the state.”

An undercover investigation caught Holca writing prescriptions for hundreds of oxycodone and Xanax pills.

According to the state’s complaint against him, Holca: prescribed painkillers to an undercover officer and patients without conducting physical exams, creating written treatment plans or performing consultations; prescribed drugs to patients with warning signs of addiction or drug diversion (passing them along or reselling them to friends) and despite warnings from insurance or pharmacy benefit management companies about specific patients’ drug-related activities; accepted cash from the undercover officer for each visit and stashed more than $120,000 throughout his home (inside books, chairs, under a mattress, in a closet and behind a framed picture on the wall). Police also found two loaded handguns and 12 bags of marijuana packaged for resale in his home.

“This doctor’s indiscriminate prescribing of opioids not only broke the law, it violated the trust we place in doctors to do no harm,” said Sharon M. Joyce, director of New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies. “We expect medical professionals to exercise sound judgment in prescribing medication, especially controlled substances that can lead to addiction. As we continue to battle New Jersey’s opioid crisis, we cannot afford to have our efforts thwarted by irresponsible doctors who push highly addictive opioid pain pills into our communities.”

Paul R. Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, likened Holca to a common street-corner drug dealer.

Under the terms of the board of medical examiners’ consent order filed on Tuesday, Oct. 1, Holca’s New Jersey CDS registration, which allowed him to prescribe controlled substances in this state, is permanently revoked.

The board will not reinstate Holca’s medical license until he demonstrates he is fit to resume practice, in part by proving he has taken and successfully completed approved courses in medical ethics and medical recordkeeping.

Holca was also assessed a $100,000 civil penalty and $35,695 in attorneys’ fees. However, in light of the nearly $300,000 criminal forfeiture resulting from Holca’s guilty plea, the board stayed the $100,000 civil penalty, provided Holca complies with the terms of the consent order.

The Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau conducted the investigation, in partnership with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration through its Camden Resident Office, and the Stafford Township Police Department.

Deputy Attorney General David M. Puteska, of the Division of Law’s Professional Boards Prosecution Section, represented the state in this matter.  —V.F.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.