LAPEER (WWJ/AP) – A 47-year-old Flint Township doctor is accused of giving prescriptions for the painkiller methadone that led to the deaths of three people.

Hatem Ataya was charged earlier this week in Lapeer County with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance causing death. Ataya has offices in Lapeer and Genesee counties.

Authorities say two people — Robert Holmes and John Wilson — died in January 2012 and another — Roger Kerr — died in July 2012 after Ataya prescribed them methadone at his Lapeer office.

Lapeer County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Turkelson says the prescriptions were given “in a manner that is not medically appropriate,” and that the methadone was provided on an “as-needed basis.”

According to the Flint Journal, the three deaths came to light after a Lapeer police investigator “noticed these particular deaths … all from methadone and the same doctor” and connected the dots. Soon afterward, the DEA caught wind of the case and began a joint investigation.

Ataya is being held on $5 million bond. He’s due back in court for a probably cause hearing on June 12.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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