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MONTGOMERY COUNTY

In Photos, a Tale of Bethesda Physician's Descent Into a Drug Conviction

In a mug shot, left, physician Eric Greenberg appears to need a wall for support. He was convicted of cocaine possession. An old photograph shows better times for the Bethesda doctor.
In a mug shot, left, physician Eric Greenberg appears to need a wall for support. He was convicted of cocaine possession. An old photograph shows better times for the Bethesda doctor.

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By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 2009

The mug shot shocked even longtime police officers: Bethesda physician Eric Greenberg, under arrest for cocaine possession, appeared to need the wall to his right for support. Hair tousled and eyes half-closed, he looked about to go to sleep.

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In court this week, Greenberg's attorney showed Montgomery County District Court Judge Gary G. Everngam a different version of Greenberg, one photographed years ago at his wedding and another at a party with his wife. In these photos, he is dancing. He is beaming.

"Maybe you'll return to this, Dr. Greenberg, happier times," the judge told him, handing the photos back to the attorney.

Greenberg's wife, Jaquenette I. Fischman, brought the photographs to the courthouse. She said in an interview that they represented the man she's known all these years. Fischman also brought letters of support from past patients, whose names she covered and who had originally written to help the internist get through previous scraps with state medical regulators.

"Dr. Greenberg was able to make a diagnosis on more than one occasion that had eluded a specialist," wrote one patient. In interviews, others have shared similar sentiments.

The physician was convicted of cocaine possession Tuesday and sentenced to 18 months of probation. His wife said he doesn't do drugs. His attorney said Greenberg, 43, knew of no cocaine in his house.

Defense attorneys caution that many people don't look good in mug shots. It's not as if they can smile, the attorneys say, as that would make them look as though they're not taking things seriously. Many suspects also are scared or haven't slept for a while.

A report from the Maryland Board of Physicians, however, suggests another explanation for Greenberg's police photos.

According to the board, which suspended Greenberg's license April 16, there is probable cause to believe the doctor "is addicted to, or habitually abuses" narcotics or controlled dangerous substances.


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