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Supreme Court Sends Local Doctor’s Case Back to Appellate Court

WHEELING – The U.S. Supreme Court has sent the case of a Wheeling doctor convicted more than two years ago of distributing controlled substances back to an appellate court for more consideration.

In January 2020, a federal court jury found that Dr. George “Jeep” Naum, then 60, had conspired with others to illegally distribute controlled substances from a drug treatment center, Advance Healthcare Inc., in Weirton, from 2008 to 2016.

Naum’s conviction later was appealed and upheld by the 4th District Court of Appeals, explained Elgine McArdle, attorney for Naum. It next was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the interim, he has already served jail time, she said.

This week the Supreme Court ruled on a similar case, Ruan v. United States. In the decision written by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, the court found that the prosecution must prove that a doctor “knowingly or intentionally” set out to overprescribe or distribute narcotics to be found guilty of a crime.

After the Ruan ruling was announced, McArdle said she anxiously watched for the court to move on Naum’s case before their session ended Thursday.

At about 11 a.m. Thursday, the decision came sending Naum’s case back to the 4th District Court of Appeals “to be reconsidered,” McArdle said.

She added that, in her 30 years of experience as a practicing attorney, the Supreme Court almost always denies writs of certiorari asking that lower court decisions be overturned.

“It just doesn’t happen,” McArdle said. “People convicted in federal government usually don’t get their convictions reversed.”

She believes a precedent could be set in the Naum case, and that other doctors found guilty of illegally distributing controlled substances may get their convictions overturned.

“This is huge in West Virginia, where we have many doctors involved in ‘pill pusher’ cases,” McArdle explained.

Naum was convicted in 2020 of one count of “conspiracy to distribute controlled substances outside the bounds of professional medical practice,” and four counts of “aiding and abetting the distribution of controlled dubstances outside the bounds of professional medical practice.”

He was sentenced to six months incarceration, to be followed by two years of supervised release with the first six months on home confinement.

Naum served four months of the sentence at FCI Morgantown from March 9-July 8, 2020, according to McArdle.

He also was also ordered to pay $77,063 in forfeiture, as well as a $2,500 fine.

Naum also had to relinquish his medical license while incarcerated and on supervised release.

He remains on supervised release, and McArdle said she filed a motion with the court “about three to four months ago” to lift the supervision so his license could be reinstated.

“That hasn’t been ruled upon, but now I am going to request that that be ruled upon immediately,” she said.

McArdle is still researching what all she can do for Naum if his conviction is overturned.

“I believe there is an option to at least get his attorney’s fee back,” she said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia also has the option of retrying the case, McArdle added.

“Dr. George P. Naum of Wheeling, West Virginia, was convicted of illegally distributing drugs in violation of drug trafficking statutes,” said William Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, in a released statement. “Earlier this week, in the case of Ruan v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the application of criminal drug trafficking statutes to registered doctors who prescribe controlled substances.

“The Supreme Court remanded Naum’s case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit so that it may determine what effect – if any – the Ruan decision will have upon his criminal convictions,” Ihlenfeld said.


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