When Dr. Donald Austrian of Trumbull, Conn. was set up by who turned out to be a crooked cop, his life forever changed. A prominent internist in his area for 30 years, Dr. Austrian was charged with 24 counts of prescription fraud and conspiracy for crimes he did not commit.
After two years of fighting for his freedom at a massive financial and emotional expense, Dr. Austrian was acquitted. He and his wife have since relocated to Maine, leaving the state of Connecticut and a once-flourishing practice behind.
I had the opportunity to talk with the good doctor and his lovely wife about their ordeal, their personal politics, and the medical marijuana he grows for his back problems, wanting NOTHING to do with prescription medications of any kind.
Dr. Austrian was framed by a crooked cop and acquitted after draining his life savings for legal fees.
If you were to read the original article about Dr. A (which is what he likes to be called), you’d see a write-up about an evil pill-mill prescription-writer who, despite 30 years of successful practice, was getting rich $134 at a time selling prescriptions to drug addicts.
The investigation against the doctor was launched when he was accused, by a drug addict, of selling prescriptions. The police sent in William Jennings, a member of a joint police-DEA task force who has since retired under allegations that he assaulted a local landscaper.
Jennings claimed that Dr. A charged him a cash fee and wrote him a prescription without bothering to examine him.
Jennings was wearing a wire. When the entire recording was obtained and played for the jury in his case, claims that the doc was selling pills with no regard for people’s actual health or safety were rebuffed. Dr. A is heard expressing great concern for the man’s health, examining him thoroughly, including a rectal exam, and reluctantly writing him a prescription for something “safer” than Percocet.
Having gotten to know the good doctor, and he IS good, the truth that eventually acquitted him was easy to see in how he deals with people.
Dr. Donald Austrian is kind, gentle, and genuinely concerned for his fellow-man. That he was caught up in the pill-mill hype and brought up on charges so the state of Connecticut could show it was doing something about a growing epidemic is nothing short of a travesty of justice.
If you’re a doctor from Connecticut you have to at least claim to be a conservative.
When Dr. A learned I was a writer for a liberal blog, the discussion very briefly turned political:
Dr. A: So then you believe that people should turn to the government to take care of them?
CT: I believe that in a society of 316 million people that there are bound to be those that need help, and we need to take care of our own.
The discussion didn’t go much further, and I sensed that Dr. A wasn’t really interested in moving it forward. His wife, who is a loving and caring woman who you can tell would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it, had fallen into the trap of “Fox News.” She was slightly more interested in talking politics.
We chatted a little bit about socialism, a little bit about the reality of what it actually costs the taxpayer to take care of people, and a little more about “Fox News” and If You Only News, which she spent a good deal of time reading.
My favorite part of the conversation was when we discussed Obamacare:
CT: I think it probably needs to be continually improved upon, like any massive social endeavor, but I think overall the American people will find that average health care costs will come down, insurance companies will be held to a higher standard and we’ll see a lot more healthy people living longer, happier lives.
Mrs. A: Can I tell you something? (I nod.) I have to admit it. I signed up on the Marketplace and we saved $400 a month.
The Doctor has serious back problems, and even though he’s a physician, he still requires insurance to cover what ails him. I was pleased to know that these fine people, regardless of their politics, were able to find affordable health care despite their age and pre-existing conditions.
Prescriptions for back pain? Not any more. Safe, legal medical marijuana is the way to go.
Dr. A has since retired from practicing medicine. With all of the negative publicity, no acquittal was going to be enough to restore his credibility in the community. The doc’s story is typical of those accused of crimes they didn’t commit being tried and convicted in the press.
Since relocating to Maine in retirement, the good doctor (I know I’ve said it but I must again: He IS good) and his wife have moved into the next phase of their lives, enjoying each others’ company and remodeling a house Mrs. A owned before they married. What little they have left they will spend making a comfy life in the state known as Vacationland, far from the persecution of Trumbull, Connecticut.
Dr. A, (going against the conservative status-quo) has decided he wants nothing to do with prescription medications, not even for his own back pain. He has moved on and in a very short time perfected the art of growing his own medical marijuana. His grow is perfectly legal, and his home smells wonderful.
The doc has only one regret, and that is that he can’t share his herb with those who need it. That requires a license and the kind of scrutiny that Dr. A no longer welcomes in his life. I can’t say that I blame him.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Not all “conservatives” are bad people; they’re just misguided.
Dr. Donald Austrian is a genuinely decent human being. His politics don’t dictate his existence, his compassion does. While I say he’s “misguided,” he would probably disagree. Everyone is allowed their own beliefs, and this man and his wife are honest and intelligent enough to make their own choices and come to their own conclusions.
The conclusion I came to after spending some time with them is this:
The world is a better place with Dr. and Mrs. Donald Austrian in it.
Featured Image: vocative.com