Friday, November 24, 2017
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.

Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Jon Mott wins record fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

By BOB PUTNAMCLEARWATER — The Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot has long been a fixture on Jon Mott’s sporting calendar. Not even a 103-degree fever Tuesday could keep him away from the event, in its 39th year. Mott, a record four-time 10k champion, added ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

Bucs players, coaches say they cherish getting game balls for special feats

TAMPA — In the jubilant moments after a Bucs win, Dirk Koetter will sometimes ask for a game-used ball from his equipment staff, hold it high in the locker room and present it to the player who was most crucial to the victory.NFL players can ask for ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Updated: 8 hours ago

Updated: 8 hours ago
Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

LARGO — Sydney Pender, 27, loved riding her motorcycle, even though she knew the dangers. Three years ago, her friend said, a delivery truck hit her. But she kept riding. On Thanksgiving, it was a crash with a taxi cab that killed her.Pender, a St. P...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Valrico intersection closed after car-sized hole opens in road

VALRICO — A hole the size of a vehicle opened up beneath the intersection of Nature’s Way Boulevard and Elm Grove Lane, Hillsborough officials said.The cause of the depression is unclear, but the intersection was blocked off to traffic.Hillsborough C...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Update: Mother, toddler hit by car in critical condition at TGH

TAMPA — A mother and one of her two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were still in the hospital on Thanksgiving, according to Tampa General Hospital.Cassandra Marie Spicola, 29, and 18-month-o...
Published: 11/23/17

Pasco County put under immediate tornado warning

The National Weather Service has put out a tornado warning for Pasco County. Thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado and strong winds are expected over Jasmine Estates, New Port Richey and Hudson until 1:15 p.m., according to the NWS warning. Ba...
Published: 11/23/17
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Published: 11/23/17