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A win for embattled Bethesda physician

Dan Morse

Suspended Bethesda physician Eric Greenberg -- the subject of a mugshot that stunned even longtime police officers -- is on a bit of a roll.

A Montgomery County jury last week overturned his previous cocaine possession conviction, two months after a judge acquitted him of an assault charge based on allegations by a neighbor who said Greenberg had knocked his tooth out.

Next up for the 43-year-old internist: A trial on charges he assaulted to police officers, and whatever may come of a second Drug Enforcement Administration search of his office.

“One case at a time,” his attorney, James Papirmeister, said Tuesday. “He’s fighting for his survival.”

In a sense, there are two Dr. Eric Greenbergs.

One is the picture painted by physician regulators and narcotics agents: In one of the most striking allegations, police said when they raided his office on April 1 the good doctor presented himself with fresh needle marks on his arms and feet.

At the same time, Greenberg, at least in the past, has attracted a loyal following of patients, some who label him brilliant. “He’s smarter than regular people,” one told The Post. “It’s not even a race.”

In Greenberg’s most recent case, which ended Friday, the jury deliberated for more than three hours before declaring him not guilty of possessing cocaine and possessing drug paraphernalia in the upstairs, residential area of his home office along Old Georgetown Road.

Papirmeister, his attorney, cast doubt on how police handled and cataloged evidence. Photographs of the living quarters also showed such a mess that jurors may have concluded the doctor couldn’t have known everything in an area that was accessible by others.

Greenberg has said the marks on his arms and ankles were caused by lichen planus, a skin condition. He explained so as a witness during his trial last week, showing jurors the condition, Papirmeister said. At other times, though, Greenberg appeared to doze off during other witness's testimony.

At the Maryland Board of Physicians, regulators weren’t exactly blown away by Greenberg’s latest win. “It doesn’t detract from the fact that this guy didn’t meet the standard of quality care,” said John Papavasiliou, deputy director of the board.

It’s unclear if a court date had been set for the police assault charges. According to those allegations, after officers were called to his home to investigate a complaint, he took a swing at one of them. During the altercation, police said, he called one officer a “murdering Nazi” and called another officer “giggle google man.”

Greenberg allegedly also told the second officer that he was lucky that Greenberg had left his meat cleaver in the house and spared the officer’s life.

And there is the matter of the Drug Enforcement Administration. On Oct. 14, 2009, an investigator presented herself at Greenberg’s office wanting records on more than 150 patients who allegedly paid their bills in cash -- an indication they could be addicted to pain pills.

According to federal court records, the investigators left with a boxes of medical records, receipt books, empty prescription vials, a Compaq computer and more.

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  November 24, 2009; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Montgomery  
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