CLEVELAND -- A Westlake doctor told a judge he's not guilty of charges that he ran a pill mill out of two local medical offices.
Dr. Ronald Celeste says he's bankrupt and wants the county to hire an attorney for his criminal defense.
He's been indicted on 226 criminal counts, including drug trafficking. The county prosecutor's office says he wrote more than 33,000 prescriptions unnecessarily for painkillers and other drugs.
An undercover investigation found that Celeste examined patients only superficially before prescribing narcotics.
The judge told Celeste to stop practicing medicine, but he's still in good standing with the Ohio Medical Board. The board meets Wednesday, and it's possible his case could be discussed during the closed-door portion of the meeting.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has made pill-peddling doctors a priority. He says that in his two years in office he has yanked the medical licenses of 35 physicians.
"That's a shocking number, but it means there are 35 of these guys who were drug dealers who are no longer able to kill people," said DeWine.
The county prosecutor's office says Celeste not only endangered his patients but also the citizens of Cuyahoga County.