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Federal judge says Dr. Thomas Sachy's trial will stay in Macon

His defense lawyer says the trial should move due to 'inflammatory' media coverage

MACON, Ga. — A Gray doctor accused of  illegally prescribing opioids and other drugs to patients could be headed to trial in early 2020.

Federal judge Tilman 'Tripp' Self III ruled that Dr. Thomas Sachy's trial will be in Macon. 

On Thursday, he rejected a defense motion to move the trial out of town due to pretrial publicity.

Last year, federal drug agents arrested Sachy and three employees in his Gray clinic, including his mother.

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Prosecutors say drugs prescribed by Sachy killed at least two patients.

Although their trial is currently scheduled to start in August, lawyers in the case met Thursday to discuss setting a new trial date.

According to court records, Judge Self estimated that the trial could last four weeks.

Defense lawyer Bruce Harvey suggested a November date, but prosecutor Janelle Booker offered a January 2020 date. Lawyers expect to agree on a new trial date by the end of May, according to court records.

After the hearing, Self issued his order saying that the trial will stay in Macon.

Last month, Sachy's lawyers asked the judge to move the trial to another federal court due to pretrial publicity.

They wrote that stories about Sachy's case have "predominated" in Central Georgia print and broadcast media that has "saturated the community."

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Those stories, they wrote, have been "universally damning" to Sachy and "unbalanced" and "negative." Some were "false and highly prejudicial" while others were "inflammatory," the defense wrote.

Sachy's team wrote that the publicity would make it impossible to seat an impartial jury and threatens his right to a fair trial. They argued that can only be remedied by a change of venue.

In response, prosecutors wrote that the publicity for the Sachy case does not meet the high bar that would justify moving the trial.

"There has not been heavy media coverage of this case," prosecutors wrote.

They added, "As the Supreme Court has cautioned, it 'may come as a surprise to lawyers and judges, but it is simply a fact of life that matters which interest them may be less fascinating to the public generally'.”

Sachy remains in the Butts County jail awaiting trial.

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