ELYRIA — A former Elyria obstetrician accused of illegally prescribing weight-loss drugs pleaded guilty to lesser charges Thursday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court and was ordered to permanently surrender his medical license, forfeit $87,000 to the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office and enter a diversion program.
Following plea negotiations between his attorney and prosecutors, Meir Benit pleaded guilty to amended charges including eight counts of possession of criminal tools, all fifth-degree felonies, in Judge Chris Cook’s courtroom.
Cook held off on making a finding of guilty pending Benit’s completion of the program, and continued his bond. Eight additional charges against Benit were dismissed after plea negotiations.
Cook’s order was that Benit, 85, enter and complete the prosecutor’s office’s diversion program for one year. Conditions of the program are that Benit be monitored by the Lorain County Adult Probation Department, surrender his medical license to the State Medical Board and never again practice medicine in Ohio or any other state.
He also was ordered not to commit any other crimes other than minor misdemeanors while in the program, submit to random drug and alcohol testing and not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.
If Benit successfully completes the diversion program, the prosecutor’s office may recommend to Cook that all the charges be dismissed, according to court documents.
Benit was arrested March 1, 2017, on a grand jury indictment charging him with improperly prescribing the appetite suppressant Adipex to his patients over a certain period of time in 2016, and his office searched. More than 3,000 pills were seized, along with medical records, from his offices on East River Street.
Benit “far exceeded” state medical board rules for prescribing Adipex at least eight times between March and August 2016, according to the prosecutor’s office. The case was investigated by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Lorain County Drug Task Force and the state medical board.