Proceedings temporarily halted in trial of suspended Perry doctor

Proceedings were halted this morning for three days in the federal trial of suspended Perry doctor Spurgeon Green Jr., who is accused of prescribing powerful narcotics outside of the usual course of medical practice in which 13 patients died during an 18-month period.

U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal told jurors this morning that the trial would be suspended until 9 a.m. Thursday because of health problems being experienced by O. Hale Almand Jr., a Macon attorney representing Green.

The trial was suspended for three days last week because of the attorney's health problems.

Royal told jurors that the case was very complex and already numerous witnesses have testified.

"Certainly, we need to give Mr. Almand the opportunity to get back on his feet and to finish the trial," the judge said from the bench.

Dorothy Mack, a physician's assistant who worked for Green, and Jack Joseph, a pharmacist whose business was located near the doctor's office, are on trial with Green for allegedly conspiring to distribute drugs "not for a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice," according to the 118-count indictment.

Green is accused of distributing medication that led to the deaths of seven people as well as serious bodily injury to six other people who died - and in which the drugs prescribed were a contributing factor.

Mack is implicated in three of the death charges and two of the serious bodily injury charges, while Joseph is implicated in four of the death charges, according to the indictment.

Dr. Barry Straus of the North Georgia Pain Clinic testified last week that Green provided sub-standard care, including prescribing and dispensing powerful narcotics, that caused the deaths of 13 patients under Green's care during an 18-month period.

Also during his two days of testimony, Straus told jurors that Mack's treatment of five of the 13 patients in conjunction with Green led to their deaths. Straus is scheduled to return to the witness stand Friday.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.