Former metro medical examiner charged in drugs-for-sex case

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Former metro medical examiner charged in drugs-for-sex case

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Former medical examiner Joe Burton. (Burton & Associates)

Federal authorities have charged former metro medical examiner Joe Burton with illegally distributing opioids and said they believe the well-known pathologist traded drugs for sex.

Burton, now a private consultant, once served as the medical examiner for numerous counties, including DeKalb, Clayton and Gwinnett. He was arrested last week on a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and released on $50,000 bond. An assistant who answered the phone at Burton & Associates said Burton was not in the office Tuesday.

In a sworn affidavit, Drug Enforcement Administration Officer Raymond Baker said his investigation led him to believe “that Burton exchanged prescriptions for sexual favors.”

Federal prosecutors have also filed a forfeiture motion seeking to seize Burton’s office on Highway 9 in Alpharetta.

Burton, who is a doctor and licensed forensic pathologist, caught the attention of narcotics agents when they learned he’d been prescribing oxycodone to a large number of patients, according to the forfeiture filing. From July 2015 through Aug. 12, 2017, Burton issued 1,507 prescriptions — 1,107 of which were for opioids, the filing said.

This amounted to 108,850 individual doses of opioids, the filing said.

“From their investigation, agents learned that many of the 108,850 individual doses of opioids were resold or diverted to abusers and addicts,” prosecutors said.

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