Ronald Gene “Doc” Wexler
Prince Frederick, MD – A Calvert County man who runs a hospital for wild animals entered guilty pleas to three counts in the state’s case against him Thursday, Oct. 27 in District Court. Ronald Gene “Doc” Wexler, 68 of Lusby, entered an Alford plea to one count of possession of controlled dangerous substance (CDS) not marijuana, a conventional plea of possession of CDS not marijuana and one count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
Judge Michelle Saunders gave Wexler a six-month sentence for the possession of a CDS and then suspended the entire sentence. Further, Saunders ordered the defendant to pay a $500 fine for practicing without a license, placed the remaining charges on the Stet Docket, and imposed three years of unsupervised probation.
Calvert County Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Rappaport identified four witnesses to include former college interns. Rappaport requested Saunders to stipulate that Wexler is not to contact them. Wexler’s attorney, Robert Bonsib told the court his client had no objection to the no-contact stipulation.
According to court documents, criminal charges against Wexler were filed June 7. According to Cpl. Michael Lathroum of the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), in April 2015 he was assigned to review “a 20-plus page complaint letter which had been received by the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service alleging violations of state, and federal laws and regulations by a licensed wildlife rehabilitation organization, identified as the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center (OWRC) in Lusby.” Wexler founded OWRC in 1990.
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office recommended the complaint be investigated and a search and seizure was conducted at OWRC four months later by NRP and personnel from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Court documents indicated Just over a dozen drugs—all classified as CDS schedules II, III and IV—were found and seized. Lathroum also stated authorities found three wild animals being treated at OWRC. Lathroum stated in court records that two of the animals should have been euthanized.
“He has been a lover of animals all his life,” Bonsib said of his client, adding that agencies such as Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Calvert Animal Control have sought Wexler’s aid over the years. Bonsib conceded his client “didn’t cross the T’s and Dot the I’s,” but added all the confiscated meds “were possessed lawfully. What he did he did with a good heart.”
The defense attorney also stated that the DNR held off on the search and seizure so as not to disrupt the facility’s operation. “We’ve turned no one away,” said Wexler. ”We’ve done the best we could.”
According to Bonsib, OWRC’s original veterinarian died and the drugs Wexler administered to the ailing animals “were to eliminate suffering.” Wexler told Saunders that OWRC currently has seven veterinarians on its board of directors.
“I think your intentions were good,” Saunders told Wexler. The judge noted the defendant has no prior criminal record. As for the charges placed on the Stet Docket, at a later date Wexler may apply for expungement of the charges on his record.
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