CHICAGO, IL. -- A suspended physician formerly affiliated with three Chicago hospitals is now facing federal charges, after similar state charges were dismissed last week, alleging that he attempted to distribute prescription drugs in exchange for sex. The defendant, Joshua D. Baron, a pediatric neurologist, was charged federally in connection with his arrest in January 2011 following an undercover investigation by the Wilmette Police Department. A broader investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration showed that Baron allegedly traded various prescription narcotics and other medications in exchange for sex and/or cash with at least three individuals who were not patients since 2008, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed yesterday.
Baron, 37, of Oak Park, was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Federal Court yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys. He was charged with one count of attempted distribution of a controlled substance containing amphetamine.
Baron was licensed in Illinois in 2006 and treated patients at Rush University Medical Center, John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County, and St. Anthony’s Hospital, all in Chicago. He has voluntarily surrendered his medical license and his DEA registration.
The federal charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Chicago Field Division. The Wilmette Police Department, the Chicago Police Department Organized Crime Division’s narcotics and gang section, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation assisted in the investigation.
According to the complaint affidavit, between 2007 and 2011, Baron allegedly placed 68 advertisements offering to trade various prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Norco, Percocet, Xanax, Vicodin, Ativan, Ritalin, Darvocet, Oxycontin, and/or Klonopin, on the website Craigslist.com. Agents interviewed individuals who claimed to have responded to the online advertisements and received prescriptions for various drugs from an individual they later identified as Baron. One individual allegedly obtained prescriptions for controlled substances on 10 or 11 occasions between 2008 and 2010 in exchange for sex with Baron. Another individual allegedly obtained prescriptions approximately four times in 2009 in exchange for sex and/or cash, and a third individual allegedly obtained prescriptions on 11 or 12 occasions in 2010 and January of this year in exchange for cash. None of these individuals was a patient of Baron’s, they did not visit his office, and he never took a medical history, conducted an examination, or attempted to diagnose them, according to the charges.
In January, the Wilmette police conducted an undercover sting that led to Baron’s arrest when he arrived at a specified location, allegedly expecting to trade a prescription for Adderall with a fictitious woman in exchange for sex.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Bell.
Attempted distribution of a controlled substance carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
A complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.