BALTIMORE, FEB. 24 -- Montgomery County doctor George C. Daniel, sought as a fugitive for skipping a scheduled guilty plea on drug charges in federal court Monday, cleaned out his bank accounts last week and apparently fled in a small airplane he owns, federal authorities said today.
In a motion to revoke his $200,000 bond, prosecutors said Daniel, a former National Institutes of Health fellow who sparked local publicity with a novel medical house-call service for elderly and handicapped patients, withdrew more than $3,000 from two bank accounts and disappeared.
A Cessna airplane owned by Daniel and parked at Baltimore-Washington International Airport was last seen at the airport on Friday, prosecutors said. An airport source said today the plane, a four-seat, single-engine craft with a range of about 520 miles, "is not on the field."
In another development, Debra Cason, a lawyer with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board described by prosecutors as a girlfriend of Daniel's, submitted a letter of resignation by mail to the bank board today and has not been located by agents looking for her. Cason, who was in the savings and loan insurance division of the bank board's office of the general counsel, went on leave Monday, the day Daniel failed to appear in court for his guilty plea, and has not been in the office since, according to board sources. No other details of Cason's resignation were available.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey E. Eisenberg, chief prosecutor in the Daniel case, said U.S. marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration agents have begun a search for Daniel but so far have found no trace of him.
The doctor was indicted in November on 11 counts of illicitly selling prescriptions for powerful pain-killing narcotics to undercover agents. According to a DEA affidavit in the case, Daniel sold prescriptions for drugs, including the potent pain killer Dilaudid, to customers or "patients," often in public parking lots with no medical purpose and without examining the patients. Dilaudid is a popular prescription drug among narcotics addicts and sells for up to $50 a capsule in the Washington-Baltimore area, Eisenberg said.
When Daniel was arrested in November, prosecutors urged that he be denied bail, claiming that he had lied to authorities about his age, financial assets and citizenship. They also noted that he owned the Cessna aircraft and was an experienced pilot.
A British subject born on the Caribbean island of Dominica about 1,400 miles southeast of Miami, Daniel had both his passport and his pilot's license seized by agents when he was arrested. He had been living in the United States on an expired student visa, prosecutors said. He completed studies at Yale Medical School in 1979 and was serving a three-year fellowship at NIH as an endocrinologist until his arrest.
When he was released from jail in January, Daniel posted bond secured by five properties he owns in Maryland and the District valued at more than $200,000, Eisenberg said. He now stands to lose those properties.
In the motion to revoke the bond, Eisenberg said Daniel's Cessna was last observed at BWI Airport on Friday, and "no flight plan has been filed with authorities for this aircraft."
An airport official noted today, however, that small noncommercial planes such as the Cessna do not have to file flight plans in good weather, as has prevailed generally in the BWI area in the last few days.
The official said a private pilot normally can enter the airfield and take off in his plane without showing his license to anyone. He likewise can land at other airfields without challenge and without a flight plan in good weather, the official said.
If the pilot tries to leave the country by flying over the Atlantic Ocean, the official said, he is required to file a flight plan, regardless of the weather. If he flies through the so-called Air Defense Identification Zone about 30 miles offshore, the plane will be spotted and monitored by radar and subject to challenge by the Coast Guard or Air Force, the official said.