Area dentist pleads guilty in drug case
WARREN – A local dentist was ordered to undergo a presentence investigation Monday after pleading guilty to 10 counts of selling prescription painkillers, which his attorney said was likely brought about by stress from dealing with disabilities in four of his six children.
Dr. Mark D. Jones, 49, of Ridge Road, Cortland, saw five counts of the 15-count indictment of aggravated drug trafficking dismissed in exchange for his plea before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos.
Jones, who prosecutors say used an associate to get the drugs from various pharmacies, practices with Gentle Family Dentistry offices on East Market Street in Howland.
Jones’ attorney, J. Gerald Ingram, said his client continues to practice at his Gentle Family Dentistry offices on East Market Street in Howland following a full investigation by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
”He’s keeping his license and completed a 20-day inpatient and aftercare programs at Glenbeigh even before he was indicted,” Ingram said. ”He went to rehab on his own 18 months ago.”
Jones is accused of selling or offering more than the bulk amount of Oxycodone between March and December 2011 – all aggravated drug trafficking charges that are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
Assistant county prosecutor Gina Buccino Arnaut said the case is connected to a 10-count secret indictment against Bernie Vacca, a business associate of Jones’ who makes dentures for the office. Vacca, 56, of Girdle Road, West Farmington, pleaded not guilty to deception to obtain dangerous drugs charges in June, when Jones was indicted.
Vacca was accepted into the county’s Drug Court program in August.
Most of Vacca’s charges occurred between April 2011 and January 2012. Arnaut said Vacca, who was under a doctor’s care at the time, would use his own prescriptions for hydrocodone and other prescriptions written by Jones, have them filled at pharmacies and then split the drugs with Jones.
The cases were investigated by Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy and the Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force.
Ingram said that Jones became aware of the investigation when TAG agents raided his offices and before he went into rehab.
He said Jones and his wife care for two sons and two daughters who suffer from Angelman syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder.
”Mark is a perfect example of the success that can come from drug rehabilitation,” Ingram said.