YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A doctor who pleaded guilty in January to running a pill mill out of his Lake Milton office filed a motion Thursday in federal court to withdraw his plea.
Lawyers for Martin Escobar, 58, filed the motion before U.S. Judge Donald C. Nugent in the U.S. Northern District Court Of Ohio. Prosecutors have yet to file their response.
Escobar also filed a motion last week to retain new legal counsel. That motion has yet to be ruled upon but it was a pair of different attorneys who wrote the motion asking for Escobar to withdraw his plea.
Escobar was to be sentenced this week but that was pushed back to Thursday.
Court documents said Escobar was “prescribing controlled substances that were outside the usual course of health care practice,” including to people under 21. Prosecutors said two of his patients died of drug overdoses.
Prosecutors say Escobar ignored signs that his patients were becoming addicted to the medication and did not document in medical charts the reason for prescribing the controlled substances. He is also accused of failing to use other treatments options other than opioids, even increasing dosages for prolonged periods of time without evidence that the treatment plan was working.
He is also accused of billing insurance companies and the government for the work he was doing.
Prosecutors looked at Escobar’s work with 51 patients between 2015 and 2019.
Escobar’s new attorneys said a change in law because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has made him change his mind about his plea. The high court ruling now states that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a doctor knew he was acting in an unauthorized manner or intended to do so.
Because Escobar was never informed of that element of the charges against him, it means he entered into a guilty plea without knowing all the elements the government has to prove, which makes his plea defective, his new attorneys wrote.