Montgomery Doctor Convicted on Drug Distribution, Health Care Fraud, and Money Laundering Charges
Montgomery, Alabama – On Thursday, December 19, 2019, a federal jury convicted Dr. Richard A. Stehl, 59, of Montgomery, Alabama, on 94 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, two counts of health care fraud, and five counts of money laundering, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris, and HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson. In reaching its verdict, the jury found Dr. Stehl guilty on each of the 101 counts at issue in the case.
The trial evidence showed that, from 2010 through 2018, Stehl operated a medical practice called Healthcare on Demand. For most of that time, the practice was located at 201 Winton M. Blount Loop in Montgomery—just off of Taylor Road. At his practice, Stehl prescribed addictive controlled substances, including hydrocodone cough syrup, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan, despite knowing no legitimate medical purposes existed to support these prescriptions. Stehl also required his patients to return for monthly office visits if they wanted refills on their medications. After doing nothing more than giving the patient a refill, Stehl would bill the patient’s insurance company for the cost of a 25-minute office visit and a moderately complex physical examination. Finally, Stehl laundered the proceeds of his drug distribution and health care fraud through a web of shell corporations, business entities registered in the names of family members, and investment accounts. In doing so, Stehl attempted to hide the approximately $1,000,000.00 he was generating each year from his medical practice. Stehl even went so far as to hide in excess of $70,000.00 in cash in a filing cabinet in his garage.
During the trial, the jury heard from ten of Stehl’s former patients. Each patient received multiple controlled substance prescriptions from Stehl. Several of the patients either developed addictions while seeing Stehl or had existing addictions worsened as a result of the supposed medical treatment Stehl provided. One patient stated that she would wait four hours to see Stehl and, by the time she made it to the examination room, she would demand that Stehl give her a prescription and let her leave, which he would then do. Another described driving in excess of four hours to see Stehl because she knew that Stehl would give her the drugs that she wanted. A third patient stated that Stehl gave her routine steroid injections, even though she reported to Stehl that she was allergic to steroids. After receiving several injections from Stehl, this patient wound up in the hospital.
Following these convictions, Stehl faces a significant sentence that could keep him in prison for the rest of his life, as well as substantial fines. The Court could also require Stehl to forfeit to the government his medical office building, his residence, the proceeds of an investment account containing over $400,000.00, and the cash found in his garage.
“Dr. Stehl put profit over patient care,” stated United States Attorney Franklin. “Over the past few years, my office has worked hard to take unnecessary prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets and off of the streets. I hope that this case reinforces the message that medical professionals like Dr. Stehl who use their prescription pads to become drug dealers will be held accountable. I am grateful to our law enforcement partners for their tireless work investigating this case. This verdict is a testament to their dedication.”
“Yesterday, another physician who has abandoned his Hippocratic Oath was dealt a substantial blow with guilty verdicts on over 100 counts of criminal activity,” stated DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris. “Thanks to a jury of his peers, the United States Attorney's Office, and our law enforcement partners, Dr. Stehl is no longer a source of dangerous and addictive drugs in our community. Dr. Stehl's shameless disrespect for the law and for the safety of his patients has now been dealt with. He is no longer a threat and remains where he belongs— behind bars.”
“A doctor is entrusted with caring for his patients, not pushing unnecessary drugs and services on patients,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta. “Dr. Stehl continuously put his financial gain above the health and safety of our local residents. HHS-OIG continues to focus resources on those who divert and unnecessarily prescribe drugs for profit and abuse.”
“The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and the Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama are charged with protecting the health and safety of our citizens of this great State of Alabama,” stated William M. Perkins, Associate Executive Director for the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. “This agency is proud to be in partnership with the many state and federal agencies that participated in this important prosecution.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration and Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General investigated this case, with assistance from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. They were also aided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Additional assistance was provided by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Millbrook Police Department, the Opelika Police Department, the Montgomery Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Megan A. Kirkpatrick, and Alice S. LaCour prosecuted the case, along with Assistant United States Attorneys R. Rand Neeley and Brett Talley.