A Glen Burnie resident and former commuter pilot yesterday denied charges that he illegally obtained 7,261 doses of pain-killing drugs and that he used them while working for American Airlines.
Michael Demas, 38, of the 100 block North Meadow Road, a former pilot for American Eagle, a subsidiary, was charged Tuesday with one count of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs.
Police charging documents say Demas had been seeing 54 doctors, including four dentists, in the county since July 8, 1989, and had obtained 7,261 doses of pain-killing drugs.
The case against Demas has been submitted to the state's attorney's office to see if other charges should be filed against the former pilot, police said.
Demas was employed by the airline from Feb. 1, 1989, to Jan. 19, 1990, and worked out of O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, said American Eagle spokesman Ed Martelle.
When contacted by phone yesterday and asked if he used prescription drugs while flying for American Eagle, Demas replied: "Certainly not."
"At the time he was working for American Eagle, we know he was obtaining them (drugs)," said county police Sgt. John Santana. "We don't know if he was taking them while he was actually flying."
Martelle said the FAA requires pilots to report any prescription drugs they might be using. He did not know if Demas had ever been tested for drugs.
Martelle said that at the end of his one-year probation period, Demas "failed to meet and live up to the expectations of a first officer (co-pilot)."
Company records indicate that in October 1989, Demas failed to show up for a flight in La Crosse, Wis. Hotel employees had to break down his door to wake him. Demas was hospitalized and then dismissed.
Demas appealed his dismissal, but the issue became moot when his probationary period ended.
American Eagle serves 31 Midwest cities from its base at O'Hare, using planes that seat a maximum of 64 passengers, Martelle said.
After his 2:30 p.m. arrest, Demas was released by a District Court commissioner on personal recognizance, said police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Bisesi.
The police said Demas' Air Transport Pilot certificate was suspended Oct. 12 after Detective Sharon Conrad informed officials at the Federal Aviation Administration of the investigation.
But FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said his license had not been suspended and administration officials in New York had no action pending against Demas.
Bergen said the transport certificate authorizes Demas to fly a multi-engine aircraft. He also has a valid commercial certificate to fly a single-engine plane.
Bergen said it appeared that Demas had a clean record with the FAA despite "some action that was proposed but later waived in 1988."
Bergen refused to elaborate on those allegations, but said they were "not serious" and were not drug-related.
Until his arrest, Demas was getting the prescriptions filled in at least 29 different drug stores in the county, Bisesi said.
The drugs included Tylenol with Codeine, Aspirin with Codeine, Soma, Percodan, Demerol, Darvocet, Roxicet and Vicodin.
During September alone, police say he visited 14 different doctors and filled the prescriptions for 938 doses of pain killers at 14 different pharmacies.
Copies of police reports and prescription information have been sent to the state's attorney's office, which will decide if additional charges will be brought.
Demas was arrested at a Glen Burnie automotive shop where he said he works as an inspector.
Demas said he has a back injury from an accident two years ago. "It's true, but I am not going to elaborate on it."
Demas said he left American Eagle, which he said paid him $11,600 a year, to make more money.
Santana said the investigation began earlier this month when police were notified by pharmacists that Demas had been requesting several prescriptions.
"We had some that had been called in from out of state," he said. "But we haven't checked any other counties yet."