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Feds indict doctor on drug charges, causing death

Green Cove Springs physician appears in federal court Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Clay County physician appeared in federal court Friday afternoon to face four counts of dispensing Schedule II and IV drugs for "no legitimate medical purpose." One of the counts alleges that morphine given to one patient caused his death.

Russell Sachs, 56, was arrested Friday at his home in Green Cove Springs by the U-S Marshals.

According to the indictment, Sachs, owned and operated Physician Pain Management in Green Cove Springs. United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley III  said Sachs dispensed and distributed various combinations controlled substances between 2011 and 2012 that weren't medically needed, including alprazolam (Xanax), carisoprodol (Soma), clonazepam, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone, morphine, and oxycodone.

During a 20-minute hearing, Judge Monte Richardson asked Sachs if he was taking any drugs or medications. Sachs said he takes a painkiller for headaches and neck pain and a medication for sleep apnea. 

Derek Stafford told News4Jax he was a patient of Sachs while suffering pain from a broken neck. He said he became suspicious of the amount of medication he was being given. 

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"I was actually at a point where they're making me a couch potato and I needed to get up and get going," said Stafford. "I needed to strengthen myself and not just become a pill head."

Stafford (pictured) said he couldn't work without pain relief and endured years of narcotics before he could start his own business. When Stafford wanted the drugs to stop-- he said that's not what Sachs wanted.

"The last visit I had with him is where I made the statement that I thought he was an unethical doctor. That I had decided to move on, had weaned myself off of the pills, and have a great day. That's when he told me, 'You're going to regret this.' And I thought that was a weird thing to say."

Stafford said he is not surprised by the arrest and grateful he stood up for what he believed-- when he said "no" to more medicine.

"I'm glad to be away from there. Hearing all this-- was just a matter of time I think."

Sachs also has his supporters. News4jax spoke to Susan Gorman, 60, who was a former patient. She raved about Sachs and said he seemed like a man who really cared. She said she had to provide documentation of her injuries, and the authorization for medical treatment.

Sachs' lawyers and the federal prosecutor declined to comment.

Sachs could face a minimum of 20 years in prison on each count and up to a life sentence on the count involving a death. He could also be fined $4 million.

He is being held without bond pending a detention hearing Wednesday.


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