FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 28, 2012
FORMER MINGO COUNTY PHYSICIAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ILLEGAL USE OF A DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION REGISTRATION NUMBER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. –A former Mingo County doctor was sentenced today to six months’ imprisonment followed by one year of supervised release by United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. for conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number. William F. Ryckman, M.D., 66, previously pleaded guilty in December. Ryckman admitted that from February 17, 2010, until February 19, 2010, he caused multiple controlled substances to be prescribed under his DEA registration number to individuals who were not evaluated or seen by him. Ryckman possessed a DEA registration number which gave authorization for him to prescribe controlled substances for legitimate medical purposes and within the usual course and bounds of medical practice.
“Doctors swear an oath to do no harm,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “This doctor dishonored that oath – and his profession – by feeding a prescription drug epidemic that has harmed West Virginia and its people terribly. Now he can use his prison time to reflect on the promise he broke and the damage he caused.”
“I have zero tolerance for doctors or pharmacists who use their prescription power to victimize the vulnerable,” Goodwin continued. “I will continue to investigate and prosecute them as aggressively as I know how, and we will keep making progress in the battle against prescription drug abuse.”
On February 17, 2010, known individuals faxed several blank “doctors list” from the defendant’s principal medical practice located in Williamson, W.Va., to the defendant who at the time, was at his Pennsylvania residence. Ryckman further admitted that he signed and faxed the list back to known individuals at his Williamson office. The defendant also admitted that under his authorization, the blank lists were then improperly utilized to prescribe controlled medications for individuals that he did not evaluate or see as patients. Due to the "doctors list" being blank when he received it, the defendant admitted that he did not know who was receiving controlled substances or what controlled substances were being prescribed.
During the scheme, known individuals filled in multiple patients' names, dates of birth and prescription type, strength, and quantity and faxed the improperly authorized lists to local pharmacies in order for the controlled substances to be dispensed. Ryckman admitted to knowing that while he was absent from his Williamson office on February 18 and 19, 2010, known individuals arrived at his office, paid a cash fee and were directed to one of at least two pharmacies located in Mingo County. The individuals subsequently received controlled medications, including hydrocodone and alprazolam, also known as “Xanax,” as a result of the scheme.
In addition to the prison term, the Court ordered the defendant to pay a $5,000 fine.
This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, remain committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District.
Assistant United States Attorney John Frail handled the prosecution.
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Click the link below to listen to audio sound bite from U.S. Attorney Goodwin discussing today’s sentencing: