A 46-year-old former Barrie, Ont., ER doctor has been sentenced to two years in connection with the forging of prescriptions and trafficking of fentanyl.
Darryl Gebien was first arrested in November 2014 and charged with three counts of uttering a forged document, after a pharmacist alerted police to unusual prescriptions.
In January 2015, he was arrested for a second time and charged with 65 additional offences. In total, Barrie police alleged close to 500 fraudulent prescriptions for fentanyl patches were issued by Gebien.
He learned 33 to 44 of those patches illegally made it onto the streets of Barrie, which is part of the reason why prosecutors were seeking a sentence of eight years behind bars.
Mitch Eisen, Gebien’s lawyer, told Global News Wednesday he was “very pleased” with the sentence, given the Crown’s call for a lengthier sentence.
“It was a very thoughtful and considerate judgment,” he said, adding Gebien had pleaded guilty to the charges. “The judge was obviously very impressed with the efforts of rehabilitation that Darryl had made.”
Eisen said Gebien has also hosted speaking engagements and made himself available to medical groups and individuals struggling with addiction seeking advice in the time since he was charged.
VIDEO: Ontario doctor forged fentanyl prescriptions to feed addiction
“I think the judge was very impressed with that and he was balancing that with the seriousness of the charges,” Eisen said.
Eisen said Gebien knew there was a “risk of a considerably higher sentence” and was relieved that his jail term wasn’t longer.
“There must have been 20 or 25 people in the courtroom there supporting him,” he said.
“At one point he broke down crying when the judge was going through both some of the evidence and the things he’d done and some of the efforts he’d made at rehabilitation.”
Eisen said Gebien asked the judge if his father could sit with him in the courtroom while the sentence was handed down and that it was a “very emotional” day in court.
Gebien told Global News last month his fentanyl addiction had led him down a dark path that ended with his arrest, but the guilt he felt for his actions continued.
“There’s a lot of shame and grief when I think about that, but I have to put myself back in the frame of mind I was in,” he said.
Gebien said a Percocet prescription for back pain in 2013 started his recreational addiction to opioids, which he described as a “double-edged” sword that worsened with withdrawal.
In 2014, Gebien said he ran out of the drug and was going through “severe withdrawal” when he decided to use his access to fentanyl as an ER doctor to supplement his opioid addiction.
On Jan. 19, 2015, Gebien awoke to handful of emergency task force police officers with battering rams and search dogs “barking like crazy” outside of his door.
He and his wife were arrested and taken from their home, while his three children tried to process what happened. It was that day that Gebien began down a path to redemption.
Gebien admitted he abused his authority to obtain the drugs he felt he needed at the time, but he said he hopes others understand it was fuelled by addiction as opposed to greed.
He said he uses social media to connect with others who have struggled or continue to struggle with addiction, which gave him a sense of purpose going forward.