Local pediatrician arrested on suspicion of drug possession outside of Burning Man festival

Dr. Bret Gerber placed on leave, won't be charged

SAN DIEGO - A local Scripps pediatrician has been placed on administrative leave in light of his arrest Saturday on suspicion of drug possession outside of the Burning Man festival.

On Thursday evening, Scripps Coastal Medical Group President, Kevin Hirsch, M.D., issued the following statement to 10News regarding Dr. Bret Gerber:

"Safe, quality care for our patients is our number one priority at Scripps. Dr. Gerber has been placed on administrative leave from his position with Scripps Coastal Medical Group while we investigate this matter further."

Police took Gerber into custody after finding MDMA, illegal mushrooms and GHB -- also known as the "date rape" drug, but is a substance that people take recreationally -- during a traffic stop.

The Mono County District Attorney's office, which has jurisdiction over Gerber's case, told 10News that charges have not been filed against him because he was offered -- and accepted -- entrance into a diversion program.

An official said in some cases, depending on the type of charges and criminal history, a person may be offered a diversion program in lieu of getting charged.

10News contacted the California State Medical Board to ask Gerber had a responsibility to report his arrest. In response, Cassandra Hockenson, JD, Public Affairs Manager for the State Medical Board, said, "If there is an indictment or conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor then there is an obligation to report that within 30 days.

She explained that a diversion is neither, which means Gerber could get this arrest off his record by taking a class.

Hockenson said Gerber will have to disclose his arrest when he fills out his paperwork to renew his medical license.

"If he meets the criteria of the diversion program or Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ), the charges will be dropped," Hockenson added.

10News contacted Scripps early Wednesday, and a spokesperson said they were unaware of Gerber's arrest. They released the following statement Wednesday:

"Safe, quality care for our patients is our number one priority at Scripps. This is the first time we have heard about this matter and we are working with his employer, Scripps Coastal Medical Group, to investigate thoroughly."

Gerber has 17 years of experience, and according to his Scripps profile, he is well-respected and liked by his patients.

In 2012, he won the Patients' Choice Award and was given the Compassionate Doctor Recognition.

In an online video profile found on YouTube, Gerber says, "I think a good doctor is one who relates to their patients and to the population that they serve. At the end of the day, it's really nice to feel like I'm part of their family."

10News found photos on Gerber's Facebook page that appear to be from the Burning Man festival. One man commented on the post, "Bret, you are glowing ... Looks like Burning Man joy."

Burning Man is an annual event in the Nevada desert, advertised by many as a place for radical self-expression.

10News stopped by Gerber's home in the upscale Kensington neighborhood Wednesday evening, but a man who was not Gerber answered the door and said the doctor was not home.

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