PHOENIX — A plastic surgeon who admitted stealing medicinal cocaine from a
surgery center in Scottsdale was sentenced Monday to three years of probation.
Dr. Paul Kenneth Holden had been convicted on theft and drug charges.
Authotrities said Holden stole five vials of the drug in the middle of the night
July 10 from a surgery center that shares the same building as his medical
office, authorities said. A woman who was cleaning the surgery center spotted
Holden, clad in a white lab coat, during the crime hiding behind shelves next to
the center’s pharmacy, police said.
Holden, 42, pleaded guilty three weeks ago in Maricopa County Superior Court to
a misdemeanor theft charge and a felony drug-paraphernalia possession charge. He
faces punishments ranging from probation up to two years in prison.
He faced up to two years in prison, but Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
Pamela Svoboda followed the recommendation in Holden’s plea agreement that he be
sentenced to probation.
Medicinal cocaine is used in procedures performed on the nose and is a purer
form of the drug than what’s sold on the streets. When used in medical
procedures, it serves as a decongestant and anesthetic and helps reduce bleeding
and shrink tissue.
Investigators said Holden once had authorized access to the surgery center,
where he performed surgeries, but that access was withdrawn for an unspecified
incident in 2012 and that he later tried unsuccessfully to get his access card
He was believed to have sneaked into the surgical center through a
break room whose security-access code hadn’t been changed since Holden had
access to the office.
The woman who was cleaning the surgery center ran away screaming when she saw
Holden, who stopped her and said nothing abnormal was going on.
Holden then went into the pharmacy, shut the door behind him and
emerged three minutes later with coat pockets that looked like they were filled
with bulky items.
People who worked at the building recognized Holden from video-surveillance
footage taken around the time of the crime. The cleaning worker later identified
Holden in a photo line-up.
Holden later called a manager at the surgical business to repeatedly apologize,
see what he could do to resolve the issue and inquired about the strength of the
case against him, police said.
Flynn Carey, an attorney for Holden, didn’t return a call seeking comment on
Holden was given permission by a judge 10 days after the theft to travel to
California to participate in an in-patient treatment program.
Holden still has a license to practice in the state, and no disciplinary action
has been taken against him by the Arizona Medical Board, which licenses doctors
in the state.
But the board has opened an investigation against Holden, said Pat McSorley,
the medical board’s deputy director, declining to reveal the allegations being
examined. Possible punishments from such investigations include letters of
reprimand, censures, probation and loss of licenses.