Schenectady City Court Judge Vincent Versaci was at a loss Wednesday as to how to sentence a local home care doctor following several misdemeanor convictions.
One the one hand, Versaci stressed that he believes David Hornick had nothing but the best of intentions in June 2006 when he was found with powerful painkillers in the trunk of his car.
Hornick admitted at trial that he possessed the drugs to keep one patient from over-medicating herself and was planning to destroy other medications given to him after a patient died.
Still, Versaci said, rules were broken and there had to be a punishment. He said that punishment would be a total fine of $1,000.
“We have to play by the rules set forth by the Legislature,” Versaci said Wednesday afternoon in the long-delayed sentencing. “There has to be punishment here, even though there was no malicious intent.”
Hornick, 65, was convicted at trial in December on a total of seven misdemeanor counts.
Versaci set aside three of those counts dealing with unauthorized dispensing. That left four misdemeanor counts, three of criminal possession of a controlled substance and one for criminal possession of stolen property.
He had faced up to two years in jail, but prosecutor Michele Schettino sought no jail time. Instead, she asked for a maximum fine of $4,000.
She argued the case was never about Hornick’s practice, it was about following the rules.
“This case was never about whether David Hornick was a nice man or a compassionate man. It was never about whether David Hornick was a good doctor,” Schettino said. “This case was about rules, the rules that bind all of us.”
Defense attorney Cynthia Feathers, who will handle Hornick’s expected appeal, asked for no fine.
Versaci agreed that jail or probation would serve no purpose in the case. He also considered community service, but said that would not be a good fit either.
Instead, he settled on the fine.
But he also admonished Hornick for his practice of keeping medication in his car, especially the powerful painkillers.
If anyone found out the medication was there, Versaci said, he would have been a prime target and the medications could have made their way to the streets.
“You were driving around with a time bomb in your car,” Versaci said.
Attention now turns to the appeal to Schenectady County Court, and Hornick’s medical license.
The state Office of Professional Medical Conduct is expected to consider sanctions against Hornick because of the conviction. Hornick has continued to practice.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said Hornick should be allowed to continue practicing, but be made to follow the rules. Versaci Wednesday also said he believed Hornick should continue practicing.
A spokesman for the state office confirmed that no action has been taken, however he declined to say if an investigation was under way.
“Any time we become aware of a physician being charged with or convicted of a crime, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct will pursue the matter,” spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said.
Feathers asked for and was granted time to ask the higher court for a stay of the sentence, pending appeal. She said she and the doctor were grateful that the judge did not impose jail or probation.
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