Judge de­nies mo­tion to dis­miss charges against Wy­oming County den­tist

Christo­pher Berez­nak is charged with il­le­gally pre­scrib­ing con­trolled sub­stances.

The Citizens' Voice - - Region - BY TER­RIE MOR­GAN-BESECKER STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: tbesecker@timessham­rock.com; 570-348-9137 @tmbeseck­ertt

A fed­eral judge de­nied a Wy­oming County den­tist’s mo­tion to dis­miss charges he il­le­gally pre­scribed con­trolled sub­stances to an Olyphant woman who died from an un­re­lated heroin over­dose.

Christo­pher Berez­nak, 48, of Clarks Green, is charged with nine counts of un­law­ful dis­tri­bu­tion and dis­pens­ing of a con­trolled sub­stance. Au­thor­i­ties say Berez­nak, who had a den­tal of­fice in Tunkhan­nock, wrote prescriptions for cariso­prodol and two other con­trolled sub­stances for Ash­ley Gam­mon that did not have any le­git­i­mate med­i­cal pur­pose.

Gam­mon, 25, died from an over­dose of heroin and fen­tanyl in July 2016. Berez­nak is not charged with her death be­cause au­thor­i­ties de­ter­mined none of the drugs he pre­scribed con­trib­uted to her fa­tal over­dose.

Lack­awanna County de­tec­tives ini­tially charged Berez­nak. Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties later took over the case.

Berez­nak’s at­tor­ney, Lawrence Kan­sky, sought to dis­miss the seven charges re­lated to the pre­scrip­tion of cariso­prodol be­cause it was not placed on Pennsly­va­nia’s list of con­trolled sub­stances un­til Au­gust 2016, about a month af­ter Kan­sky last pre­scribed the drug for Gam­mon.

Se­nior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Ca­puto re­jected the ar­gu­ment.

“The fact that a state has not cho­sen to add a sub­stance to the con­trolled sub­stances list does not mean that there are no bounds on the scope of le­git­i­mate med­i­cal prac­tice for pre­scrib­ing it within the state,” Ca­puto said in a rul­ing filed Fri­day.

Berez­nak has a sep­a­rate mo­tion pend­ing that seeks to bar pros­e­cu­tors from pre­sent­ing text mes­sages be­tween him and Gam­mon at his trial. Ca­puto had not ruled on that mo­tion.

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