'Steroid doctor' to spend month in halfway house Dundalk physician admits 'a mistake'

May 01, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A federal judge sentenced a suspended Dundalk physician to one month in a halfway house and eight months of home detention for illegally selling steroids to bodybuilders, including 25 police officers.

Judge Benson E. Legg also sentenced George Hebeka, 61, to 15 months of probation after he completes home detention.

Hebeka pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to one federal count of illegal distribution of steroids. He admitted to earning at least $200,000 by prescribing various types of the drug to bodybuilders for nonmedical purposes.

By imposing a one-month halfway house term, Judge Legg imposeda slightly harsher sentence than the one recommended by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Griffin in a plea- bargain agreement. She requested nine months of home detention and 15 months of probation.

"My reason for not accepting the government's recommendation that steroids are very serious and very substantial drugs with very serious side effects," the judge said.

Under the plea agreement, Hebeka surrendered $289,000 in cash and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that investigators seized from his home last August. The state board of Physician Quality Assurance has suspended his medical license for at least a year.

"I know that what happened was a mistake," Hebeka said. "I just want to go back and practice as close to the rules as possible. . . . I will go back and abide by medical rules and medical ethics."

He said he intended to continue studying medicine in the hopes of regaining his license next year.

Federal officials said Hebeka had earned a reputation as "the steroid doctor," who would sell prescriptions when there was no medical need. They said he would not examine patients or require routine follow-up visits.

Ms. Griffin said the police officers who bought steroid bTC prescriptions from Hebeka would not face federal charges, but information on them has been turned over to their agencies for administrative action.

Of the 25 officers who purchased steroids, three work for the state Department of Public Safety, two work for Baltimore County Police Department, seven work for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, two are Maryland State Police officers, seven work for the Baltimore Police Department, and four work for the Baltimore County Sheriff's Department. Two Baltimore Fire Department employees were named as customers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation learned about Hebeka in early 1987 from a convicted steroid distributor. In 1991 and July 1992, government witnesses and undercover police officers purchased nine prescriptions from Hebeka after telling him they wanted to increase their strength for weightlifting. The doctor charged $25 per prescription.

Agents searched the doctor's home and office Aug. 1, 1992. They discovered records showing that he had prescribed more than 22,000 dosages of steroids over an 18-month period.

Some of Hebeka's customers have suffered side effects from the steroids, Ms. Griffin said. They included liver disease, testicular atrophy, cysts in the neck and breasts, violent behavior, renal stones, skin disease, hair loss and impaired sexual functioning.

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