A former Mahoning County physician has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for illegally prescribing controlled substances resulting in the deaths of two patients.

Fifty-eight-year-old Martin Escobar was sentenced on Thursday after previously pleading guilty to 54 counts of illegally providing controlled substances including two counts of distributing controlled substances causing the deaths of two patients and one count of distributing controlled substances to someone under 21 years old.

Escobar was also convicted of 31 counts of health care fraud.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Baeppler says Escobar ignored signs of addiction and other signs that his actions were causing harm to his patients and falsified justifications for issuing prescriptions he knew should not have been written.

"Due to his behavior, two patients died from the drugs he illegally prescribed to them. Our community is safer with Mr. Escobar now behind bars," Baeppler said.

According to court documents dated between March 2015 and August 2019, Escobar prescribed these controlled substances from his office in Lake Milton including opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, often in combinations with benzodiazepines and stimulants and did so outside the usual course of his medical practice and without legitimate medical purposes.

Escobar used false diagnoses, falsified patient pain intensity scales on medical charts, increased dosages of controlled substances and provided painkillers for prolonged periods without evidence of efficacy to support these unlawful practices.

Additionally, Escobar did not explore treatments outside of controlled substances and falsely claimed to have performed extensive physical examinations on his patients.

"This guy thought he could outsmart the system by concealing his drug dealings behind a doctor's coat. Thankfully, our many partners in this investigation followed the paper trail of his prescription pad and and stopped his scheme," said Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost.