Santa Rosa Doctor Indicted For Unlawfully Prescribing Fentanyl And Oxycodone
SAN FRANCISCO –A federal grand jury indicted Santa Rosa doctor Thomas Keller, charging him with distributing Schedule II and IV controlled substances outside the scope of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical need, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan. Keller was also charged with two counts of health care fraud related to billing.
According to the indictment filed September 27, 2018, and unsealed yesterday, in June of 2017, Keller, 72, of Santa Rosa, was a licensed physician when he knowingly distributed Oxycodone to a person knowing that the distribution was outside the scope of his professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Further, in March of 2018, Keller allegedly distributed Tramadol to another person, again knowing the distribution was outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Then, in July of 2018, the indictment alleges, Keller distributed fentanyl to a different person knowing the distribution was outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. In addition, Keller is accused of submitting two fraudulent health care claims for payment as follows: one to Anthem Blue Cross of California in March of 2018, and the other to Medi-Cal in July of 2015.
In sum, Keller is charged with three counts of distributing drugs outside the scope of professional practice, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), and two counts of health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1347.
This prosecution is the result of investigations by the DEA, FBI, HHS-OIG, and the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and Keller, like all defendants, is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Keller faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000, for the distribution of fentanyl and Oxycodone. If convicted, Keller faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 for the distribution of Tramadol. In addition, if convicted, Keller faces 10 years in prison and $250,000 (or twice the gain or loss) for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Additional fines, restitution, and additional periods of supervised release also could be ordered at sentencing. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Keller made an initial appearance before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero yesterday. Keller is scheduled to appear next before the Honorable Judge Vince Chhabria on Tuesday October 16, 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shailika Kotiya is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rawaty Yim. This case was investigated and prosecuted by member agencies of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.