Hempfield doctor enters no contest plea in overdose death case
A Hempfield doctor could be ordered to serve up to 40 years in prison when sentenced this year for prescribing drugs to a patient who died from an overdose in 2015.
Dr. Edgar Peske, 80, this week entered a no contest plea to a charge of drug delivery resulting in death, unlawfully prescribing controlled substances and Medicaid fraud.
“He wanted to move on and get this over with,” defense attorney Ken Noga said.
Peske wrote in a court document filed Tuesday that he pleaded no contest because it was in his best interests. Peske directed his lawyers to make no further comment, Noga said.
Peske’s patient, 30-year-old Nicole Henderson, died in June 2015 of what prosecutors said was a methadone overdose. According to court records, Henderson had for been a patient of Peske’s and had been routinely prescribed pain killers and other medication.
Prosecutors contended Peske prescribed 100 methadone pills for drug withdrawal symptoms to Henderson two weeks before her death. Her pharmacy initially refused to fill the prescription but did so a day before she died after Peske reissued it and said the doses were for pain management.
Investigators said Henderson was one of nine patients who were prescribed more than 104,000 pills by Peske over the previous 22 months. One patient, according to court records, was prescribed 30 pills a day of the pain killer oxycodone.
Peske’s plea came days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
By pleading no contest to the felony charges, Peske is considered under the law as guilty of the offenses. He will be sentenced in about three months by Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger.
Noga said standard guidelines call for Peske to receive a minimum sentence of five to 10 years in prison.
Peske will remain free on a recognizance bond until he is sentenced.
Noga said Peske no longer practices medicine.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .