PUNXSUTAWNEY — An agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office said that Henry G. Dela Torre knew that Rachel Shumaker’s addiction was out of control, but continued to prescribe her opioids.
Dela Torre, who is charged with prescribing the drugs on which Shumaker fatally overdosed in August of 2016, appeared in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.
Dela Torre’s defense argued that charges should be dismissed and refiled in Clearfield County, where the offices from which he treated Shumaker are located. District Judge Jacqueline J. Mizerock, ruled the venue was appropriate as Shumaker’s fatal prescription was filled in Punxsutawney.
“Dr. Dela Torre believed that his actions were proper, he believed they were lawful and he believed they were in the best interests of his patients. He cared for his patients,” Lyle Dresbold, Dela Torre’s attorney said. “We’re hoping that once we get a chance to examine the evidence and have our expert look at it, it will show that his actions were not only reasonable but lawful.”
Dresbold also said that Dela Torre’s license to practice medicine had been temporarily suspended.
Dela Torre was arrested in January on charges of violating the Controlled Substance Act, Medicaid fraud and related offenses. He prescribed Shumaker, whom he was treating for drug addiction and pain, Fentanyl, Diazepam, Oxycodone and and Suboxone.
Special Agent James Embree of the state attorney general’s office testified Wednesday that a review of Shumaker’s medical file indicated that she had an addiction. He said a review of medical files on her brother Randal Shumaker, who Dela Torre had also treated, indicated the same.
Embree said urinalysis results for Randal Shumaker revealed that he had not been taking opioids prescribed for him by Dela Torre, which he said suggests they were being diverted elsewhere. He also read portions of a review of the siblings’ files conducted by an independent expert, which stated Dela Torre’s actions were “below the standard of care for any reasonable physician.”