Bond set for Clayton psychiatrist Nagareddy accused in patients’ deaths

Dr. Narendra Nagareddy was granted bond by Clayton Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons during a hearing Monday. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

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Dr. Narendra Nagareddy was granted bond by Clayton Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons during a hearing Monday. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A Clayton County judge Monday set a bond of $456,000 and home confinement conditions for a psychiatrist accused of murder in the overdose deaths of three of his patients.

Last month, a Clayton County grand jury returned a 62-count indictment saying Narendra K. Nagareddy murdered Audrey Austin, 29; David Robinson, 49; and Cheryl Pennington 47. The three died of overdoses after allegedly going to Nagareddy for prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl and amphetamine salts, powerful and highly addictive drugs.

Nagareddy, who appeared in court in the customary orange jail jumpsuit and greying beard, is charged with 59 counts of writing prescriptions for drugs that are outside the normal professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, or not signing or dating prescriptions on the date they were issued.

After nearly an hour of testimony from witnesses for the state and defense, Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons set the bond at $100,000 for each of the three felony murder counts plus $1,000 each on the 56 counts connected to the prescriptions. Nagareddy already had a $100,000 bond that he posted in January after his initial arrest in the case.

Nagareddy will be confined to his McDonough home and submit to an ankle monitor as part of the conditions of the bond set on Monday. Nagareddy has already surrendered the Clayton County building that housed his practice as well as his Mercedes Benz as part of an earlier deal connected to the case. He is no longer allowed to practice medicine.

District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, who argued against bond saying Nagareddy could be a flight risk, declined comment after the ruling.

“The effort to make this bond will begin immediately,” Steven Frey, one of Nagareddy’s attorneys, said Monday after the ruling. “We’re thoroughly pleased the court considered our argument and deemed it appropriate to grant his bond.”

About two dozen family, friends and supporters showed up for Nagareddy’s 9 a.m. bond hearing.

Nagareddy had been the subject of a year-long investigation by the time he was arrested Jan. 14 by a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. He was charged with one felony drug charge for illegally prescribing pain medications. At the time of that arrest, about three dozen of his patients had died while he was prescribing them controlled substances, investigators allege.

An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that years of state and federal data, available to the public, raised red flags showing that Nagareddy was among the state Medicaid program's top prescribers of one of the most abused prescription drugs.

He was out on $100,000 bond when he was indicted by a grand jury last month on the three felony murder counts and 56 counts related to the presription drugs.