Schenectady County

Doctor spared jail time for illegal drug possession

The local home care doctor found guilty in December of illegally possessing powerful pain medication
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The local home care doctor found guilty in December of illegally possessing powerful pain medication was sentenced today to a $1,000 fine.

City Court Judge Vincent Versaci said in pronouncing sentence that he has no doubt that Dr. David Hornick had the best of intentions in possessing the drugs. However, he did not follow the rules, holding many in the trunk of the car he used for home doctor visits.

“You were driving around with a time bomb in your car,” Versaci said.

Hornick had faced up to two years in jail. He was convicted of seven misdemeanors, although three of those dealing with public health law have since been set aside.

Versaci said there had to be punishment in the case. Jail and probation would have served no purpose, he said. He imposed a $250 for each of the four misdemeanors remaining.

An appeal is planned.

Versaci also left intact Hornick’s driving privileges, something that is routinely revoked in such cases.

Still at issue is Hornick’s medical license. The state is expected to take up that issue soon.

The defense had asked that no fine be imposed. A total of 42 letters of reference were submitted to the court on Hornick’s behalf by patients and colleagues.

The prosecution asked for no jail time, but a $4,000 fine, saying a message had to be sent to ensure needed rules were followed.

Hornick was originally charged with three felony drug possession charges. If convicted on those charges, he could have faced up to 25 years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney did not bring the felony charges before a grand jury and offered in December 2006 to settle the case.

When Hornick refused, it went to court, where prosecutor Michele Schettino told the jury in summation that Hornick believed he was above the law.

Throughout his testimony, Hornick, 64, admitted possessing the medications, but said he was withholding some powerful painkillers to keep one patient from overmedicating herself and was planning to destroy other medications given to him after a patient died.

Hornick was ultimately convicted of three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and one count of criminal possession of stolen property, all misdemeanors.

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