NJ doctor flooded streets with pain pills, killing dealer’s own son, prosecutors say
WARREN TOWNSHIP — A Somerset County doctor has been accused of providing more than a million dollars worth of illegally prescribed pain pills, including a dose that killed the 30-year-old son of a man also charged in the drug-dealing scheme.
Because of the addict's death, George Beecher, 75, an ear, nose and throat specialist with a practice in this township, has been charged with first-degree strict liability for a drug induced death — a law that targets drug dealers who allegedly provided a drug dose that ultimately proved fatal.
Prosecutors in New Jersey are increasingly charging drug dealers with the overdose-death law as heroin addiction continues to plague the state. Prosecutors in Hunterdon and Ocean counties this month told New Jersey 101.5 that they've seen a spike in heroin overdose deaths this year.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that even after the death of 30-year-old Jason Stoveken, both Beecher and Stoveken's own father — Andrew Stoveken, 66, of Edison — "callously continued to profit" by peddling the dangerous pain pills to addicts across the state.
Stoveken was among seven Central Jersey residents charged with second-degree conspiracy and distribution of oxycodone in the scheme involving Beecher's alleged prescription writing.
John J. Burnham, 41, of South Plainfield, is believed to be the ringleader, coordinating the distribution of the pills on the street, prosecutors with the state Attorney General's Office said.
Stoveken, the victim's father, was accused of being the middleman between Burnham and Beecher, who had his office in the same building where Stoveken ran his hearing-aid company.
Prosecutors say the doctor wrote prescriptions for tens of thousands of 30 mg oxycodone pills, which cost about $20 to $30 per pill on the street.
Burnham allegedly would pay Beecher and Stoveken $500 for each 90-pill prescription.
- Jared Burnham, 31, of South Plainfield
- George Sara, 37, of Bordentown
- Marlena Burnham, 37, of Piscataway
- Donn Rush, 34, of the Somerset section of Franklin
- Jamar Mayers, 32, of Green Brook
“With our new strike team, we’re aggressively targeting the pill mills that are fueling opiate addiction and inflicting so much misery and death in our communities," Attorney General Christopher Porrino said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
Prosecutors say that two days before Stoveken died from the overdose in July 2013, he had purchased 90 oxycodone pills with a prescription signed by Beecher. Stoveken also had filled a prescription from Beecher for 60 2 mg Xanax pills 10 days before his death.
The defendants were indicted on the charges by a Mercer County grand jury. They will be tried in Middlesex County.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.