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Press Release

Moody Pill Mill Doctor Charged with Illegal Prescribing

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM Federal prosecutors on Friday charged a Vestavia Hills physician with illegally prescribing controlled substances, including opioid painkillers, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bret Hamilton.

            In a one-count information filed in U.S. District Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged STEVEN BRUCE HEFTER, 60, with one count of conspiracy to dispense and distribute schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose between 2012 and December 2015. Hefter worked at a pain management clinic in Moody that closed after investigators began looking into the clinic’s prescribing practices.

In conjunction with the charge against Hefter, prosecutors also filed a plea agreement with him. The terms of the plea agreement were filed under seal; however, Hefter will be required to surrender his Alabama medical license, along with his state and federal DEA certificates to prescribe controlled substances. He will be prohibited from ever practicing medicine in the United States. A federal judge must accept the terms of the agreement before it is final.

“President Trump has declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency,” Town said. “Attorney General Sessions has already implemented programs to target this epidemic. Our collective efforts in the Northern District of Alabama are already getting results and the people of Alabama can count on many more.”

“Our agents will continue to work these cases tirelessly,” Hamilton said. “This opioid crisis is devastating to our community and our children.”

 “Doctors must play a critical role in not only treating pain but also in combating America’s opioid epidemic,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammad Khatib. “Doctors prescribing opioids within the bounds of legitimate medicine are not the focus of the Department of Justice. We are, however, coming for those physicians and medical providers who abuse their positions and prescribing authority for no other purpose than greed,” he said. “Doctors who do so harm all Americans and represent the nadir of the medical profession.”

Hefter specialized as a cardiologist, not in pain management, but worked as a pain management physician for the clinic in Moody. The clinic held itself out as providing legitimate pain management services. In reality, the clinic was a pill mill churning out schedule II controlled substance pills mainly to make money. Hefter issued prescriptions through the clinic for schedule II controlled substances that were not medically necessary.

The DEA investigated the case, based partly on an investigation conducted by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners. Khatib is prosecuting the case.


Updated October 30, 2017