Calling his behavior “a very serious and disturbing series of criminal activities,” a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Forest Park resident and disgraced medical doctor Joshua Baron to nearly six years in prison.
He is to surrender to prison authorities by noon, Sept. 12.
At a 45-minute sentencing hearing attended by Baron’s parents, family and friends, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer listened to arguments from both a prosecutor and Baron’s defense attorney, as well as from a clearly shaken Baron himself, who read from a prepared statement.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for between 70 months and 87 months for Baron, who in March pleaded guilty to a single count of dispensing controlled prescription drugs outside of any medical purpose.
Baron, whose wife divorced him and who lost his medical license following his arrest, acknowledged that he had placed numerous ads in social media, including one in February, 2009 headlined “Need Adderal or Xanax?”
“Let me know what you are willing to do in exchange… please send a pic…”
Prosecutors said Baron placed a total of 78 advertisements on Craigslist, offering an array of controlled prescription drugs, including Adderall, Oxycontin, Norco, Demerol, Percocet, Xanax, Vicodin and Darvocet.
He acknowledges trading some 7,200 doses of controlled substances in pill form to 16 women between March 2009 and January 2011.
In March 2009, Baron, federal prosecutors say, had sex with a woman in her 20s at her apartment, in exchange for 30 20 mg. tablets of Adderall. Baron never examined the woman medically, never questioned her about her medical background or took a health history, and she never visited his office.
On Jan. 13, 2011, Baron was arrested by Wilmette police after he traded 60 pills of Adderall to a female undercover officer.
Baron faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on the one count.
During the hearing it was disclosed that Baron was sexually abused during his childhood, something Pallmeyer noted went unheeded by his parents at the time.
Baron’s defense attorney, E. Steven Yonover, urged Pallmeyer to impose a sentence lower than the 70 month minimum, arguing that his client was contrite, had cooperated with prosecutors, was in ongoing psychotherapy, and posed no risk of recidivism, due to the loss of his medical license.
Pallmeyer demurred, saying the case was less about drugs and more about Baron’s betrayal of the trust given him as a medical doctor.
Pallmeyer said Baron’s childhood sexual abuse did not excuse his behavior as an adult and medical doctor. Given his intelligence and experience as a doctor, she said, Baron “knew, or should have known” that his behavior in trading drugs to addicts for sex was illegal and immoral.
The judge said deterrence played a key role in her sentencing decision, noting that the majority of medical professionals who put their licenses at risk do so due to prescription drugs and their unique access to them.
“It is important that this wrong be penalized in a pronounced way,” she said.
In addition to the 70 month sentence, of which Baron must serve at least 85 percent, Pallmeyer ordered 10 years supervision following his release, 1,000 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
While she did not require Baron to register as a sex offender, Pallmeyer did say she was asking the Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate him at a facility where he could receive sex offender-type medical treatment.