Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Day Long Duel Between Doctor and Federal Agent

By Shealyn Kilroy 

Special Agent Joshua Gill wasn't taking the attorney role of Dr. William O'Brien 3d seriously.

O'Brien had been asking how the agents could determine how much medication was too much to be prescribed considering the agents weren't doctors. It was a subject that O'Brien returned to all Friday during his day-long cross-examination.

Gill would start his responses with, "How many times do I have to answer this . . ." accompanied by rants that were fast and empty.

"Based on my investigative experience, what you were prescribing was not the proper amount," Gill said, irritated.

"We saw patterns! There was patterns..." Gill said, ranting again.

“Time out!” Judge Nitza Quinones ordered.

Excusing the jury, Judge Quinones had had enough of Gill’s comments made on the stand in his answers 
that would continuously spark verbal arguments during O’Brien's day-long cross-examination.

“This is my courtroom and I can do what I want,” Judge Quinones said, reminding Gill that it was her decision to allow O’Brien to represent himself.

It was the first time during the two-week trial that Judge Quinones had to chastise a witness.

Gill, an investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services, is part of a task force of federal agents who put together the case against O’Brien. Gill had a poker face when he returned on the stand Friday morning, for his second day of cross.

A theme of O’Brien’s defense against the 140 charges he faces for running a pill mill is to question the accuracy and the credibility of the task force. O’Brien has alluded to Gill being "lousy" at his job, and not verifying every fact before testifying.

Did you do your homework last night? O’Brien asked Gill.

No, but I helped my daughter with her homework, Gill responded coldly.

Every time Gill would deliver a jab-like answer, O'Brien's mother and sister, sitting in the courtroom, would gasp and exchange words between each other.

After a series of “I don’t knows” from Gill, O’Brien grabbed his marker and wrote “I don’t know” on his easel, for the jury to see. 

Gill paused then at O’Brien’s question.

You can say ‘I don’t know,’ again, O’Brien said.

Objection, your honor. Please tell the defendant to stop badgering the witness, Prosecutor Beth Leahy interjected.

Since the trial began, O'Brien has started one question after another with, "Would it surprise you . . . " to use it as a way to talk about himself.

Would it surprise you to know that I played poker? O'Brien asked.

It wouldn't surprise or not surprise me, Gill said.

The back and forth badgering continued. It became a fight between Gill’s “I don’t knows” and O’Brien’s “Would it surprise you…”

I’m keeping track of the “I don’t knows,” O’Brien stated.

You should keep track of how many times you say would it surprise you, Gill countered.

Friday had a handful of badgers.
The cross-examination became an argument that went nowhere. However, the duel at times had substance.  Most of the co-defendants in the indictment had pled guilty, which O’Brien indicated was not a legitimate confession.

Did they pled guilty because they were scared? O'Brien asked.

No, they pled guilty because they were guilty, Gill said.

Have you ever heard that fear is the number one emotion that makes people do things, O’Brien asked, referencing the book Gotcha!

Dr. Brit Jennings, a fully licensed physician who worked alongside O’Brien, felt fear for another reason, according to Gill. Jennings, who is not charged, reduced many of the prescriptions that O’Brien was prescribing. Jennings is expected to testify later in the trial.

Why wasn’t Jennings arrested? O'Brien asked.

She didn’t do anything wrong . . . She lowered the prescriptions because she was scared . . . I don’t think it’s fair for you to compare you to her,  Gill went on.

I don’t care whether you think it’s fair or not, O'Brien said, again failing to follow the question-answer format that goes with cross-examination.

The government introduced as exhibits for the jury photos of O’Brien in Aruba, at a poker tournament in Las Vegas, and in Florida. The trips were taken during O’Brien’s alleged bankruptcy. The indictment charges O’Brien with bankruptcy fraud, along with the other pill mill related charges.

Impressively, amateur lawyer O’Brien made the distinction that his company, W.J.O. Inc., had filed corporation bankruptcy under its new trustee, and that it wasn’t personal bankruptcy.

One photo introduced as evidence showed O’Brien holding a trophy he won in a poker tournament in Atlantic City.

I think you’re letting everyone know you’re a great poker player, Gill said.

And I’m letting you know you’re a lousy investigator, O'Brien shot back.

O'Brien brought up his lavish lifestyle and poker winnings both in question and in photos.

I'm impressed, Gill said. I  think you're telling everyone what you had to impress people. 

Gill kept his Eastwood demeanor all day during

The government introduced as an exhibit a photo of Patrick Treacy, a member of the Pagan motorcycle gang who was also one of O’Brien’s “patients.”

A bald-headed man with facial tattoos, Treacy was seeing O’Brien because he was in pain from an accident that left his leg, in O’Brien’s words, “mangled.”

He was able to walk around and sell prescriptions, Gill said about Treacy.

The first time Treacy came to O’Brien’s office was to treat this pain, O’Brien said.

“This is the [same] first time you discussed his menstrual cycle and period,” Gill said.

That remark left O’Brien speechless for an uncomfortable period of time.

O’Brien and Gill discussed D.L., a dancer who had visited O’Brien for prescriptions. Gill testified that D.L. was 24 weeks pregnant when O’Brien wrote her a prescription for a 240-pill count of Methadone. 

Methadone is the "gold standard," of narcotics that a doctor could prescribe to pregnant women, O'Brien said. 

During one of D.L.’s visit with O’Brien, he shut the door, took off his belt, and wanted oral sex in exchange for the prescriptions, Gill said. 

D.L. didn’t initially tell Gill this, he said. She called back with a counselor because she wanted to bury the memory.

Another “patient” of O’Brien’s, D.P., had fallen off a pole and hurt her tailbone and was seeking a prescription. The x-ray done at Temple University Hospital on D.P.’s injuries was 100% false, testified Gill.

The date is June 27, 2014 . . . You weren’t at that Middle Street location, Gill said about O'Brien's address on the top of the document.

Really sharp of you for seeing that, O’Brien responded.

Did you call Temple and verify that the x-ray was done?

No, Gill said.

Anybody on your team going to call Temple this weekend?

Objection, Leahy said.

Is this still an ongoing investigation? O'Brien slyly asked.

Gill will return to the stand when court resumes Monday.

Shealyn can be reached at


  1. Prior to wjo bankruptcy he did file personal, it was dismissed however and be was barred from filling again for a certain period of time.

  2. why is the doctor allowed to make statements rather than only ask questions of the person on the witness stand?

    1. The judge has reminded the doctor many times that he has to ask questions. Not sure why she lets some statements slide

  3. Think this trial is DNR do not resuscitate - These guys know when a patient is abusing or selling pills they will cut them off or give them less.


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