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Orem doctor, fiancée overdosed on anesthesia, police say

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 7:50 p.m. MDT

The deaths of Lucy Schwartz, seen in this undated photo, and her fiancee Joseph Berg were because of accidental overdoses, Orem police said Friday. (, ) The deaths of Lucy Schwartz, seen in this undated photo, and her fiancee Joseph Berg were because of accidental overdoses, Orem police said Friday. (, )

OREM — Police have determined that the deaths of embattled Orem plastic surgeon Joseph Berg and his fiancée in August were the result of accidental overdoses.

Berg, 47, and his girlfriend, Lucy Schwartz, 48, were found dead at his home, 479 E. 1450 North, on Aug. 27. Their deaths came just days after Berg finished serving jail time for kidnapping Schwartz.

Based on their investigation, which included the autopsy report from the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office, Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez said it was determined that both victims accidentally overdosed on Isoflurane, an anesthesia commonly used in surgeries. It's a general anesthetic administered by inhalation.

When asked whether there was any possibility that the overdose deaths were not accidental, Martinez said the conclusion was made based on the evidence collected.

Two friends hug each other outside the home of Dr. Joseph Berg where he and his fiancee Lucy Schwartz were found dead. Orem police determined that the couple died of accidental overdoses. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Two friends hug each other outside the home of Dr. Joseph Berg where he and his fiancee Lucy Schwartz were found dead. Orem police determined that the couple died of accidental overdoses. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

"We can only speak on what evidence we have," he said.

Investigators believe Berg got the Isoflurane by going to his office the night before. He owned Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute and Day Spa in Orem, but surrendered his medical license to the Utah Department of Occupational Professional Licensing after he was charged. At that time, DOPL determined that Berg was not "physically and/or mentally fit to practice as a physician."

Last April, Berg was sentenced to jail for binding and gagging Schwartz during a drug- and alcohol-induced rage. She was found gagged and her hands and wrists taped together and tied to a dresser in the closet. Fourth District Judge Samuel D. McVey sentenced him to 180 days in the Utah County Jail and three years' probation. He also ordered the doctor to undergo drug treatment and take an anger management course. The judge suspended prison sentences that could have totaled 15 years.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Joseph Berg appears in 4th District Court to be sentenced April 23, 2012. The deaths of Berg and his fiancee Lucy Schwartz have been determined to be from accidental overdoses. (, Rick Egan) Joseph Berg appears in 4th District Court to be sentenced April 23, 2012. The deaths of Berg and his fiancee Lucy Schwartz have been determined to be from accidental overdoses. (, Rick Egan)

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