CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield County jury deliberated for almost two hours Friday before finding a DuBois doctor accused of overprescribing pain medications not guilty of all but one offense.
In January of 2018, Henry G. Dela Torre, 70, was charged with two felony counts each of administration of controlled substance by practitioner and submitting claim or referring improper service.
He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of giving controlled substance to dependent person and recklessly endangering another person.
Dela Torre was the primary care physician for Rachel and Randal Shumaker of Punxsutawney in 2015-16. The siblings both suffered from severe opioid addiction and pain, according to trial testimony.
Rachel died from an overdose on Aug. 21, 2016. One month later, Randal would also overdose, but recover after being administered two doses of Narcan.
The commonwealth accused Dela Torre of overprescribing opioid pain medications, like Oxycodone and Fentanyl, and causing the two overdoses.
However, Dela Torre was found not guilty of all charges Friday, except for one misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person with relation to Rachel Shumaker.
During closing arguments, one of Dela Torre’s defense attorneys, Christopher Mohney of DuBois, recalled his client’s final words of testimony – “that would be cruel.”
“His care of Rachel and Randal Shumaker have been scrutinized all week,” he said, adding Dela Torre began his medical practice in the 1980’s, and Rachel was his most complex patient in over 30 years.
He described Rachel as suffering from drug addiction, chronic back/hip pain and anxiety for which Dela Torre referred her to counselors, a pain consultant, psychiatrist and orthopedic surgeon.
Mohney said Rachel was repeatedly testing positive for illicit medications during her treatment, and wasn’t compliant with the opioid rehabilitation program at Vita Nova, Clearfield, resulting in her discharge.
“I guess Dr. Dela Torre could have discharged Rachel Shumaker from his practice, too,” Mohney said, “but that would have been the easy thing to do and the equivalent of doing nothing. It would’ve been cruel.”
Mohney said Dela Torre took an oath to help all his patients, and it was sacred to him. He said he especially wanted to help Rachel and Randal Shumaker, and he did his “best.”