A Mendocino County judge on Monday ordered a Ukiah surgeon to stand trial on six felony prescription fraud charges in connection with his apparent addiction to narcotic pain medicine.
Superior Court Judge Anne Moorman delayed making a decision on a seventh felony charge against orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Marcel Cable during the preliminary hearing.
Moorman said she will make a decision after further studying case law surrounding the charge of illegally furnishing narcotics. The other six charges pertain to writing illegal prescriptions.
Cable's attorney, Keith Faulder, argued that Cable wasn't furnishing narcotics because he didn't intend for others to use the prescriptions. Cable wrote prescriptions in their names with the intent of obtaining the pain pills for himself, Faulder said.
Cable has admitted to being addicted to the prescription painkiller hydrocodone for a decade, Faulder said Monday in court.
In some cases, Cable both wrote the prescriptions and picked them up at pharmacies, according to testimony by Ukiah Police Detective Noble Waidelich. In other cases, friends and acquaintances would pick up the prescriptions, keeping some of the pills and giving the rest to Cable, Waidelich testified.
"This is about his addiction," Faulder said in court.
Cable in the past used up to 16 hydrocodone pills a day, but had been reducing the amount prior to his arrest, Faulder said.
The addiction came to light last year when police were tipped off by officials at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, where Cable performs surgeries. Cable was arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled prescription narcotics, fraudulently obtaining controlled prescription narcotics, using another person's identity for an unlawful purpose, burglary and conspiracy.
Two of the people whose names he used also have been charged.
During Monday's preliminary hearing, co-defendant Kathryn Brown, with whom Cable had a "dating relationship," was ordered to stand trial on a felony charge of furnishing narcotics and a misdemeanor count of making fraudulent insurance claims. Brown billed her insurance for the medication, said Jon Hopkins, a Mendocino County prosecutor.
Tanya Still, a former nurse, also faces a charge of furnishing narcotics.
Cable also wrote and collected prescriptions under his mother's and step-father's names, according to court testimony. They live in Los Angeles.
Cable graduated from UCLA School of Medicine in 1993. He's been licensed to practice medicine since January 1995, according to the Medical Board of California.
Cable's license remains in effect but with limitations, according to the medical board's website. A Mendocino County court order issued in October prohibits him from writing prescriptions or performing surgeries as a condition of his bail. He's also subject to random drug testing.
If convicted of the six prescription fraud charges, each carries a potential sentence of three years but the terms generally are not consecutive. The furnishing charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.