Doctor Charged With Murder in Overdoses

Jan 13, 2014

A former West Palm Beach doctor has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the narcotics overdose deaths of two patients, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. John Christensen, 61, also operated clinics in Port St. Lucie and Daytona Beach. His Florida medical license has already been revoked, state records show.

John Christensen
Credit Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office

His attorney, Grey Tesh, told the Sun Sentinel that his client is presumed innocent and that he looks forward to his day in court.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says it's unusual for doctors to be charged with first-degree murder for over-prescribing drugs, but says he feels they should be held accountable for the results of their actions. He said they could make an average of $3,000 a day in the pill mills.

One of the doctors who worked in Christensen's West Palm Beach office, Dr. Stuart Fox, 62, of Boynton Beach was also arrested. He faces several charges, including trafficking in oxycodone.

Meanwhile, trial in federal court in West Palm Beach continues for Drs. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo. They are accused of over-prescribing oxycodone that prosecutors say contributed to nine deaths. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The Sun Sentinel reports that prosecutors are about done presenting their evidence and that the defense is expected to start calling witnesses this week.

In a separate case, a pharmacy technician has been acquitted of charges of being part of a steroid distribution ring, the Palm Beach Post reports.  Jaclyn Rubino faced a possible 10-year sentence; after two months of testimony, the judge acquitted her.  The trial will continue, though, against Dr. Timothy Sigman and pharmacist Peter Del Toro.  Sigman was accused of prescribing steroids for patients he had not examined.  He and Del Toro are charged with close to 40 felonies.