A former doctor on trial in Oklahoma County District Court on eight murder charges was the state’s No. 1 prescriber of powerful prescription medications, a federal investigator testified Wednesday at the man’s preliminary hearing.
William Martin Valuck, 71, is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and 57 counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.
Prosecutors allege that the former osteopathic physician and surgeon prescribed excessive amounts of painkillers, anxiety drugs and muscle relaxers, which led to the fatal drug overdoses of eight of his patients.
Valuck’s preliminary hearing featured testimony from two witnesses Wednesday. The hearing is scheduled to resume on June 17.
The day’s first witness, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigator Mary Surovec, testified that vehicles full of patients would arrive at the cash-only clinic operated by Valuck.
Surovec said the agency began looking into the activities of Valuck in February 2012 while he was working at the Vista Clinic, 3700 S Western Ave.
Most of his patients received combined prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone, the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, and the muscle relaxer carisoprodol, Surovec testified.
By November or December of that year, the agency received reports of one or two of Valuck’s patients dying, she testified.
“We were getting phone calls from pharmacies, concerned citizens,” Surovec testified.
One pharmacy chain began denying his prescriptions, she said.
By late spring 2013, a full-blown investigation into Valuck had been opened by the DEA and state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, she testified.
By this time, Valuck had started another clinic, Advanced Care, about three miles down the road.
Multiple people from one vehicle would go see the doctor at the same time, Surovec testified.
“We saw vanloads pull up,” she said.
The clinic only accepted cash, did not take insurance and charged $250 for a first visit. By this time, Valuck had added a powerful painkiller to his typical trio of prescriptions.
“Now, we had not only the cocktail of the three ... but he added oxycodone to the mix,” Surovec testified.
A local osteopathic physician, Dr. Doug Beacham, also was called to testify Wednesday. Reviewing the case files of some of the deceased patients, he found little to no documentation in their files to support the prescriptions.
“There’s nothing to support these prescriptions that have been written,” Beacham testified concerning the case file of patient Paul Beesley.
“They were not within the scope of legitimate practice and they did not have a legitimate medical purpose,” Beacham testified.
Valuck was being held without bail Wednesday in the Oklahoma County jail.
Before the hearing, prosecutors dismissed one murder count and 15 drug charges. The district attorney’s office originally charged Valuck with nine murder counts.
Valuck had been charged in connection with the deaths of eight patients and the death of a man who was killed in a car crash caused by one of Valuck’s patients.
Prosecutors said they dropped the ninth charge, involving the vehicle wreck, because they had insufficient evidence to support the charge.
“There’s nothing to support these prescriptions that have been written. They were not within the scope of legitimate practice and they did not have a legitimate medical purpose,”
Dr. Doug Beacham, testifying in regard