Tuesday, May 22, 2018
News Roundup

Doctor gets five years for peddling prescriptions

TAMPA — Dr. Sanjeev Grover's attorney said it was as if the doctor wanted to get caught and go to prison. If so, Grover got his wish Monday.

A federal judge sentenced the Lutz resident to five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for dispensing and distributing illegal prescriptions for the painkiller oxycodone in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash.

"You knew you would get caught," U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore said. "You knew you would lose your medical license. You knew you would go to jail ... I'm disappointed. Society is disappointed. Your family is disappointed. And most of all, you're disappointed."

The doctor, arrested in October, had pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Grover was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times story published the day of his sentencing. He told a reporter that it was simple greed that motivated him, and he talked of being shaken by the deaths of patients for whom he had written prescriptions.

"To this day, I'm haunted by the memory of these young kids dying," he told the Times. "I'm haunted by the fact that I fed into a system that's totally corrupted, and now it's too late."

Grover's attorney, Patrick Doherty, told Whittemore his client wrote prescriptions knowing he would get caught. Grover engaged in self-loathing, self-destructive behavior, a probable effect of the depression he suffers.

The newspaper story was just another sign of that, Doherty said. "Why would you say that today?" he told the judge, referring to the story. "The answer is, I think he's trying to sabotage what's going on today."

Doherty said Grover was exceptionally intelligent and was capable of earning a good salary without breaking the law, making his behavior all the more difficult to understand.

"It isn't greed," Doherty said. "It's something he's more embarrassed about than greed."

He said Grover was taken into custody last week under the Baker Act and hospitalized after recent talk of suicide.

The sentence could have been significantly worse for Grover, who already has lost his medical license and faced 20 years in prison.

Whittemore's sentence was below the guideline range recommended by prosecutors, which was 87 months to 108 months.

The judge said Grover had mental health issues and had not been linked to any drug-trafficking organization. Whittemore also noted Grover did not have the usual excuse used by doctors charged with writing bad prescriptions — their own drug abuse.

And Grover, the judge noted, has already lost so much. "You have no business ever being entrusted with a patient's care again,'' Whittemore said. "You know that."

What was particularly puzzling about the case, Doherty said, was that Grover made no pretense of treating the patients for whom he wrote prescriptions, as many doctors in similar circumstances do.

Grover, who earned as much as $5,000 a week, worked for pain clinics in Zephyrhills and Palm Harbor. Where some physicians might have given an addict a cursory physical, Grover met with a patient in a Burger King parking lot to hand over his prescriptions.

Grover's wife, and his son and daughter, attended the hearing. His family said Grover's spiral began after they moved to Florida seven years ago. He failed in a practice as a pediatrician, they said, and became depressed.

"It was his depression that caused him to do this," said his son Aditya Grover, a student at the University of South Florida. He said his father is a different man when he properly takes medication to treat his illness. "He's lost so much because of his depression."

The father cried at the son's words. And then Grover addressed the judge, apologizing to his family, offering no excuses for his behavior.

"I took them on an emotional roller-coaster because of my actions," Grover said.

Noting that Grover's son wants to be a physician himself, Whittemore said the sentencing provided something of a lesson.

The judge said, "He's learning a lot more than he needs to learn today."

William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

WASHINGTON — The Lightning let one get away Monday night. And it might cost Tampa Bay a chance at the Stanley Cup.So now there will be a Game 7 to decide the Eastern Conference. Maybe this is how it should be. Maybe this is how it's supposed to...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The weather didn’t get Lightning fans down. Losing Game 6 did.

The weather didn’t get Lightning fans down. Losing Game 6 did.

TAMPA — If the Tampa Bay Lightning can overcome a 2-game deficit to the Washington Capitals and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final, then Deborah Schmeltzer can definitely drive across the Howard Frankland Bridge through a driving rainsto...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

WASHINGTON — Interesting how things work out in the world of hockey.Back in 2012, the first NHL team to ever interview Jon Cooper for a head coaching job was actually the Washington Capitals. The Caps general manager at the time was George McPh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
History has been kind to Lightning in Game 7s

History has been kind to Lightning in Game 7s

WASHINGTON — There's nothing more delicious in sports than Game 7.Unless your team is playing in it. Then there's nothing more nerve-racking.Most sports fans watch a big game with a nice cold drink. But if your team is playing in a Game 7, the ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Prepare yourselves: Golden Knights will be talk of the Stanley Cup final

Prepare yourselves: Golden Knights will be talk of the Stanley Cup final

WASHINGTON — It's incredible. Unbelievable, really. Maybe the best sports story in this country and the sport of hockey since 1980's Miracle on Ice.And, as a side note, if the Lightning reaches the Stanley Cup final, everyone in the country out...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s Game 6 shutout loss

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s Game 6 shutout loss

Let's do it one more time, shall we?Game 7 it will be.If it matches Game 6, it will be extraordinary.RELATED: More Lightning coverageThe Lightning could not close the door on the Washington Capitals. The Caps, who apparently really don't want to lose...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tom Jones’ takeaways from Washington’s Game 6 win

Lightning-Capitals: Tom Jones’ takeaways from Washington’s Game 6 win

Caps D Dmitry Orlov has one of the most wicked slap shots in hockey. When he stepped into one in the first period, Lightning D Ryan McDonagh threw his body in front of it and blocked it with his shoulder — just inches from his face. McDonagh sh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE — The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA — Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor City’s biggest new projects in years — a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 7 hours ago
State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

VERO BEACH — All season, Admiral Farragut has focused on two things:Believe in each other.Commit to the process.Well, it all paid off in a big way Monday in the Class 3A state semifinals at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.Alyssa Rano hit a two-run ...
Updated: 7 hours ago