The jury in a federal case against a Needham doctor and a nurse practitioner accused of recklessly prescribing powerful opioids to drug addicts came back deadlocked Monday, a disheartening end to a grueling trial that highlighted the dilemma of treating patients grappling with addiction and chronic pain.
US District Judge Patti B. Saris declared a mistrial in the case against Joseph Zolot and the nurse practitioner, Lisa Pliner, who were accused of prescribing drugs such as Oxycodone and methadone to patients in violation of federal drug laws. Six of their patients died of overdoses between 2004 and 2006.
Two jurors said the panel was deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of conviction.
“This really was just one person” who stubbornly refused to vote for conviction, said one of the jurors, who agreed to speak to the Globe at length on the condition of anonymity. “It was very frustrating. . . . A lot of people were very upset.” Unanimous agreement by the jurors was needed for a guilty finding.
Zolot and Pliner were each charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws. Zolot was charged with seven counts of illegal drug distribution and Pliner was charged with two counts. Eleven jurors were ready to convict on the conspiracy charges as well as most of the drug distribution charges, according to the juror.
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