Doctor, girlfriend indicted in connection with alleged illegal distribution of prescription drugs

A doctor from Havre de Grace and his girlfriend suspected of distributing drugs illegally in the community, according to Havre de Grace Police, have been indicted in Harford County Circuit Court.

Dr. Thomas Francis Burke, 56, and Lindsay Nichole Smith, 33, both of the 200 block of Pointe Way in Havre de Grace, were indicted Jan. 31 in Harford County Circuit Court and arrested the following day.

According to Cpl. Dan Petz, of the Havre de Grace Police Department, Smith allegedly was selling drugs “using him [Burke] as a means to obtain.”

“We think he was giving them to her to sell,” Petz said.

The indictments and subsequent arrests conclude a 10-month narcotics investigation that began with tips to Havre de Grace Police about the alleged distribution.

Burke, who Petz said is a sleep disorder doctor in Bel Air, is charged in the indictment with obstructing justice on Aug. 8, 2017.

“He was harboring someone who was doing multiple illegal things, selling and possessing drugs,” Petz said.

Burke’s lawyer, David Henninger, said the state was hasty in its arrest of Burke.

“The only explanation given to the judge at his bail hearing was that he told [Smith] she couldn’t stay with him, took her to a motel and told her to turn herself in,” Henninger said. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that, it seems the right thing to do.

Smith was wanted in connection with drug distribution and possession charges, according to online court records.

“The state has gone way overboard, way early before they show any evidence,” Henninger said. “They started seizing his property and put him out of business. It seems to me they should wait.”

Petz said he anticipates other drug charges in the case in the coming weeks.

“There is so much stuff they’re trying to piece together in one package” to file all the charges at once, rather then piecemeal, Petz said.

Smith is charged with nine counts of drug possession other than marijuana, eight counts of drug distribution, six counts of drug possession with intent to distribute and one count each of narcotics possession with intent to distribute and possession of an illegal prescription with intent to distribute, according to court records.

According to the indictment, Smith allegedly possessed and distributed a variety of medications, including Lorazepam, Tramadol, Diazepam, Ativan, Clonidine and Sildenafil.

According to the website, Lorazapam and Ativan are used to treat anxiety; Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever used to treat severe pain; Diazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal and muscle spasms; Clonidine is used to treat hypertension and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder; and Sildenafil is used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Henninger also represented Smith at her bail review, but said he’s not sure how long he will represent both suspects.

Both had been being held without bail until Tuesday, when Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin set Burke’s bail at $50,000 and Smith’s at $30,000, according to online court records.

Burke was released Thursday, according to court records. While out on bond, he is under the supervision of pre-trial services through the Harford County Detention Center.

Curtin ordered that Smith, if she is released, must enroll in drug treatment within five days of her release and “abstain from drugs or abusive use of prescription drugs,” according to court records.

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said the arrest of Burke and Smith is a step in the right direction in dealing with Harford’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

“Since the 1990s, law enforcement has been working to address the abuse and addiction of prescription pills. The abuse, misuse and the inappropriate prescribing of opiate-based prescriptions have contributed to the proliferation of opioid abuse, and ultimately the unprecedented loss of life that so many communities, including our own, are experiencing,” Gahler said in a statement.

Havre de Grace Police worked with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Enforcement Agency and Harford Narcotics Task Force on the investigation and determined that drugs were being issued to unauthorized people, and redistributed illegally in the community, according to the release.

On Feb. 9, search and seizure warrants were executed at Burke’s and Smith’s home in Havre de Grace and Burke’s office in Bel Air, according to a news release from Havre de Grace Police.

Additional criminal and administrative charges are pending against Burke for allegedly violating the laws governing medical standards and practices, according to the news release.

Petz urged anyone in the community to report suspicious drug activity.

“If you know where drugs are going on, give us a call and we’re going to take care of it,” Petz said. “We don’t want anybody pushing drugs into the streets of Havre de Grace.”

“If you know where illegal drug activity is taking place in the City of Havre de Grace please contact us at 410-939-2121 or message us through social media,” the Havre de Grace Police news release states.

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