The Doctor's Trials

Meet Hollywood's Donald Tobkin: caring M.D., feared lawyer, accused felon

"He taught me the meaning of the phrase, 'No good deed goes unpunished,'" Sheldon Greenbaum says.

Wachovia Bank foreclosed on the Tobkins' $201,000 home in December 2002, when Marilyn couldn't meet the payments. Damned shame; it fetched $330,000 at public auction and six months later sold for $450,000. Donald and Marilyn's divorce finally came through in February 2003. Within weeks, Marilyn filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The only bright spot for Marilyn was becoming reacquainted with David Lindsey, whom she had met when she was 19 years old. Lindsey, who had been a Broward paramedic and triathlete, had in 1992 famously lost most of his lower legs when a yacht ran over him as he was free-diving off Fort Lauderdale Beach.

He's smart. He's engaging. And say this for Donald Tobkin: He embraces his anger.
Colby Katz
He's smart. He's engaging. And say this for Donald Tobkin: He embraces his anger.

The two struck up a romance and were married in August 2003. That summer, Marilyn filed a motion to allow her and the three kids to move to Orlando, home of the doctor who handles Lindsey's prostheses.

"Anger's a perfectly healthy emotion, and if one is not able to get angry, I would say they probably have a limited range of emotions," Donald Tobkin says. "It's a perfectly law-abiding behavior to get angry."

Lately more than ever, Donald's rage seems to be catching up with him. In July of last year, the Florida Bar filed a complaint against him that today looks like a stack of phone books swathed in manila folders. It stems from his conduct in Beatrice Rose's case and from the unrelated incident when he demanded the x-rays and frightened the opposing counsel Paris. It alleges that Donald "repeatedly made speaking objections after he was cautioned, made argumentative and inflammatory comments, exhibited objectionable conduct [and] made threatening comments attempting to intimidate" a witness.

"Both of these grievances arose from my adversaries complaining against me," Tobkin says. "Not my clients, not the public. Take it for what it's worth."

The January oxycodone prescription case, though, remains no small matter. Soon after the arrest, Judge Linda Vitale restricted his contact with his children to telephone calls and visitation at a supervised center in Orlando.

Judge Korda recalls his reaction to the news of Donald's arrest: "My first thought when I read it was, 'He's still a doctor? And he's still allowed to practice medicine?'"

Adds Dr. Fischman, when told of the alleged prescription profiteering: "You've made my day. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

This month, Donald is scheduled to face charges before Broward Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Connor. He has filed motions to have O'Connor disqualified for what he claims are racial biases, after the Herald last month uncovered discrimination complaints against O'Connor from her time as a federal prosecutor. Donald contends that Hollywood police set him up illegally.

He's fighting the charges viciously, despite the fact that, as of this writing, he had not secured an attorney to represent him. O'Connor denied his request for a public defender.

"To threaten me with death or prison is not a deterrent," Donald says. "It shows that the person doesn't know what they're talking about. That would be a relief! Let me be a guest of the state. Let them take over payments for a while.

"Listen," he continues, and bobbles his words for a second before launching ahead. "Life, life, the only ones who are suffering are the survivors. When they put you in the ground, the pain stops. Who's afraid of the pain stopping?"

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