A La Jolla doctor admitted he is a drug addict and alcoholic but pledged to complete a court-ordered drug-treatment program.
Dr. Bradley Schnierow pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony count of obtaining narcotics with a false prescription and a misdemeanor count of illegal drug possession.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill dismissed seven other drug-related charges.
Prosecutor David Williams III told NBC 7 Investigates that the case against Schnierow was impacted by Proposition 47, a ballot measure approved by voters last November. The new law reduces many drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. Williams said three of the original charges filed last year against Schnierow as felonies were later reduced to misdemeanors.
But Williams said the false prescription felony requires Schnierow to enroll a rigorous drug treatment program, with serious consequences if he fails.
"If an individual is successful in drug treatment, and I hope Doctor Schnierow is successful in drug treatment, he could eventually get a complete dismissal of the charges,” Williams said.
Schnierow’s attorney, Paul Pfingst, disagreed with Williams assessment of Proposition 47’s impact on this case. Pfingst said the new law did not have an impact on the plea bargain or sentencing.
Judge O’Neill will review the case and Schnierow’s progress in drug treatment at a hearing scheduled for January 29, 2016.
Schnierow's medical license was suspended last June when the Medical Board of California learned of the serious allegations against him, which included using drugs in his office, writing illegal prescriptions for narcotics, and having an inappropriate relationship with a patient. The Drug Enforcement Administration also suspended Schnierow’s license to write prescriptions for controlled substances.
Schnierow told NBC 7 Investigates that he is “an alcoholic and addict in recovery” and that he is “committed to my sobriety.”
Schnierow, who formerly had offices on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus and specialized in hair replacement surgery, said “I hope one day to have the privilege of treating patients” again.