Criminal Justice

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A pain doctor who works in Ohio and Michigan was arrested on a federal drug charge last Friday after discussing with a patient various plans to kill or drug a lawyer with fentanyl, according to an FBI criminal complaint.

The doctor, 56-year-old Daniel Schwarz, is charged with conspiracy and attempted possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance. The Washington Post, WXYZ and the Toledo Blade (here and here) have coverage.

The patient said Schwarz wanted to kill Madison Heights, Michigan, lawyer Michael David McCulloch because he represented a condo association in a civil suit that cost him $60,000, according to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint.

Schwarz also allegedly said he wanted to frame his own lawyer in the condo suit, Robert Meisner, by planting fentanyl in his vehicle.

McCulloch told the Washington Post he is nearing retirement and feels fortunate he wasn’t harmed.

“Believe it or not, this was one of the last cases I’m handling,” he told the newspaper. “What a way to go out.”

Allegations in the affidavit indicate Schwarz’s discussions with the patient changed over time.

At first, Schwarz asked the patient if she could obtain a gun silencer to kill McCulloch, the affidavit says. Then he allegedly said he wanted to secretly inject McCulloch with a fatal mix of fentanyl and Xanax in a “brush pass” in which an individual would inject McCulloch while bumping into him.

The patient initially thought Schwarz was just venting, but she began to think he was serious as he became more adamant about the plan, the affidavit says. The patient went to police in Lima, Ohio, and later talked to the FBI.

According to the affidavit, Schwarz agreed to pay the patient $2,000 for her help, and instructed her to buy a burner phone and download an encrypted messaging app. He told the patient his alias was “Dirk McBride,” the affidavit says.

During a subsequent conversation, Schwarz allegedly said he had enough fentanyl for one of the victims but not for both. The patient said she could help obtain more of the drug.

On Aug. 22, the patient went to Schwarz’s office with a substance that appeared to be fentanyl. Schwarz allegedly discussed sprinkling a heroin and fentanyl mixture on Schwarz’s neck, or sprinkling the mixture in McCulloch’s coffee at a coffee shop.

At the patient’s vehicle, Schwarz said he had just received a call and had learned an associate was willing to kill McCulloch for $10,000, the affidavit alleged. The associate also had a vendetta against McCulloch because the attorney had filed a suit against the associate’s father, Schwarz allegedly said.

Schwarz said the patient wouldn’t need to participate in the plot, but he accepted the sham fentanyl, the affidavit claims.

After his arrest, Schwarz allegedly told investigators he fantasized about killing McCulloch and Meisner, and he often discussed those fantasies with his patients. He allegedly said he had thoughts and discussions about kidnapping the lawyers and taking them to a secluded location, where he would burn them or inject them with fentanyl.

He described his thoughts as akin to scenes from the movie Reservoir Dogs, the affidavit says.

Schwarz told investigators he never actually intended to harm McCulloch. Instead he wanted to introduce the narcotics into his system or have the drugs planted in his vehicles, he allegedly said.

Schwarz’s lawyer, Michael Harrison, told the Toledo Blade he disagrees with a recommendation to jail his client pending trial. “Dr. Schwarz, my client, is not a dangerous individual,” Harrison said. “He’s a wonderful, gentle guy.”