Doctor George P. Tkalych sentenced to 5 years felony probation, possible jail time for drug trafficking, DUI charges

Local doctor George P. Tkalych received a sentence of five years felony probation and a possible 90 days in jail Thursday during a plea hearing at the Walton County Court House in DeFuniak Springs, Fla.

Tkalych was charged with trafficking illegal drugs, possession of controlled substances without prescriptions and DUI with property damage in late November 2012. His sentence includes five years felony probation and 50 hours of community service. He also has about two months to choose between three months in an inpatient drug facility or three months in the Walton County Jail, according to the Florida State Attorney's Office.

Assistant State Attorney Evin Dyess also said Tkalych's car has been impounded for 10 days and he faces $913 in court fees. He also will be required to complete a DUI class and a victim-impact panel, which exposes those who have committed DUIs to individuals who have been affected by the crime.

"It's usually a couple of hours, and it's a panel of people who talk about how DUI has impacted their lives and their families," she said. "There's usually an officer there, a person who has lost a loved one due to a DUI, a person who hurt someone while committing a DUI. It's a very serious affair."

Tkalych would be able to choose a licensed inpatient drug facility in Georgia if he decided to take that sentence instead of the jail time. He will also be able to complete his probation in Georgia, if desired.

Tkalych's Florida attorney, Clay Adkinson, was unavailable for comment Thursday morning.

The local doctor was arrested Nov. 29, 2012, after his Chevy Tahoe struck another vehicle and sent it into a ditch in Walton County. Prior to the two-vehicle wreck, he was en route to his second home in Destin, according to Florida State Attorney records. During an investigation, state troopers were called to verify his sobriety after he refused an alcohol and drug test.

After he was charged with DUI, Tkalych allegedly asked an officer to retrieve his high-blood pressure medication. That medicine was the only medication the doctor mentioned using, and one of two medical issues reported during Tkalych's sobriety tests.

Investigators later found six more drugs were inside Tkalych's two briefcases, including more than 130 hydrocodone pills, 4 grams of Lunesta, 4 grams of Cialis, 6 grams of Nexium and 32 grams of Escitalopram. Two blood-pressure medicines -- 14 grams of Benicar and 4 grams of Bystolic -- were also listed. Police said they also found a .38-caliber pistol and a prescription pad. The gun was legally registered.

Officers reported that before requesting an attorney, Tkalych admitted to taking one or two of the hydrocodone pills sometime before the crash.

The doctor served as an ear, nose and throat physician in Columbus for almost 30 years. He closed his practice Dec. 31.