‘Dr. Death’ Gets Year for His Refusal to Aid Dying Alcoholic

From United Press International

A former paramedic nicknamed “Dr. Death” was sentenced today to one year in County Jail for refusing to treat a dying alcoholic.

“He failed as a paramedic, a fireman and a human being to do his job,” Superior Court Judge J.D. Smith said as he imposed the sentence on Robert Dougherty, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Smith imposed the jail term and a $1,000 fine as conditions of placing Dougherty on three years’ probation.

Dougherty pleaded guilty in July to two misdemeanor counts of gross negligence and a felony count of falsifying a report to make it look as though he had examined dying alcoholic Melvin Wagner.


Deputy District Attorney Brian Kelberg said Dougherty refused to examine Wagner during two trips to his San Pedro residence on Sept. 23, 1985. Wagner, a cripple, died later that day, apparently of complications stemming from cirrhosis of the liver.