Tucked away on a quiet side street near downtown Gray, it's easy to miss Dr. Thomas Sachy's medical office.
But if you're in Central Georgia's legal of medical communities, there's a good chance you already know his name.
Federal indictments say Sachy illegally prescribed several types of opioids and other drugs and that those illegal prescriptions killed or injured at least two people.
He pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday.
But according to online records, Sachy's been making news for years:
- In 2010, he was jailed for contempt of court, part of the fallout from a divorce case. Sachy appealed his contempt conviction to the state Supreme Court and lost.
- He frequently testified as an expert witness in Georgia murder cases, including death-penalty cases, on forensic psychiatry and medication.
- He's also appeared on a medical expert in several TV investigations and documentaries, including: the Discovery Channel’s “Exorcists- the True Story,” CBS News’ 48 Hours “Murder on His Mind” and the SyFy Channel’s “The Haunted Boy."
- He's written articles and papers defending opioid use for pain management and the doctors who prescribe them. In one, he wrote sarcastically, "I guess I am just a drug pusher."
STATE RECORDS SHOW CLEAN HISTORY
According to state licensing records, Sachy graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1995 and has been licensed to practice in the state since 1997. After he completed training, according to his website, Sachy became clinical director of forensic services at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.
State records say there have been no previous disciplinary actions or malpractice judgments against him.
His office website says he is certified in general psychiatry and forensic psychiatry.
During his 15 years practicing in Jones County, he's become a familiar face on the witness stand in Georgia murder cases.
For example, he played a key role in the 2014 execution of Robert Wayne Holsey, who was convicted of a 1995 murder in Milledgeville.
Sachy testified before the U.S. Court of Appeals -- which called him "an expert in forensic psychiatry" and said Hosey was eligible for the death penalty because he was not mentally retarded.
But Sachy testified that Holsey's low IQ placed him in the "borderline" range.
AN EXPERT IN 'GENUINE POSSESSION'
Sachy's observations also began to show up in the media.
For example, he appeared in "The Haunted Boy," a Discovery Channel documentary about a case that allegedly inspired the novel and movie, "The Exorcist." The filmmakers described him as "a forensic criminal psychiatrist who specializes in the study of genuine possession."
And the 48 Hours piece, "Murder on His Mind," included a portion of his testimony in the trial of an accused South Carolina killer, Stephen Stanko.
Asked by the defense if Stanko chose to be a psychopath, Sachy said, "No, Mr. Stank nor the other psychopaths that we know about have not made a conscious decision to be psychopathic. They have a brain abnormality that has been forced upon them by bad luck or God or genes or what have you."
'DECEITFUL, FALSE TESTIMONY'
Sachy ended up in the defendant's seat himself after a nasty divorce in 2008.
According to Georgia Supreme Court records, Sachy's ex-wife filed a complaint, two years after the divorce, saying that Sachy and his fiance had created a website titled "Official Corruption in Georgia."
The site attacked the GBI and other law-enforcement agencies and claimed they were covering up crimes.
Sachys ex-wife, who worked for the GBI, accused him and his fiance of creating the site "in a vindictive attempt" to harm her. She argued that that violated their divorce agreement.
Sachy argued that the court was violating his First Amendment rights, and that his fiance, Evelyne Ennis, created the corruption website without his knowledge.
He appealed his contempt conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court, which rejected his arguments.
A judge who upheld the contempt finding against Sachy wrote that his testimony "was deceitful and he provided false testimony on a multiple of occasions."
"The only puzzling aspect of this ploy is why a man of such obvious intellect would believe that a court or anyone else would be taken in by such a diaphonous scheme," the judge wrote.
Evelyne Ennis, a nurse in Sachy's office, was also arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances.
'I GUESS I AM JUST A DRUG PUSHER'
Even after his legal problems, Sachy remained a supporter of opioid medications and the doctors who prescribe them, writing articles like "Use of Opioids in Pain Patients with Psychiatric Disorders" for Practical Pain Management and "Tales from the Trenches:in the War on Pain" for Pain-Topics.org.
He often argued that the media sensationalized the opioids issue and demonized doctors and patients who use them.
"And I rely on other patients, family members and even strangers to “rat out” my occult “bad” patients. And I go by my gut feelings as well…But until I have proof of abuse or diversion, I ethically must continue my practice of easing suffering in those who need it."
In another blog post -- headed "Media Sensationalizes HYDROCODONE Again! Opioid Panic [TAKE 2]," Sachy wrote, "One thing I am certain of is that these medications can be widely effective for treating all forms of pain... If you are an industrialized and thus supposedly civilized nation, you are going to treat pain aggressively – with opioids."
In the same post, Sachy reacted to a news report that said the U.S. consumes 99 percent of the hydrocodone produced worldwide,
He wrote sarcastically, "Hmmm. I wonder why? I guess I am just a drug pusher."