Beckley area physician pleads guilty to federal oxycodone crime
BECKLEY, W.Va. – A jury trial that began yesterday in federal court in Beckley on a 22-count indictment against a Beckley area physician ended today with the defendant’s guilty plea to a federal drug crime, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Dr. Michael Kostenko, D.O., 61, of Daniels, entered his guilty plea to distribution of oxycodone not for legitimate medical purposes and beyond the bounds of medical practice. The crime Kostenko pleaded guilty to was contained in Count Seven of the Superseding Indictment.
Kostenko admitted that he owned and operated the Coal Country Clinic, a medical practice located in his Raleigh County residence. Kostenko also admitted that on December 9, 2013, he distributed oxycodone, a powerful pain medication, not for legitimate medical purposes. Specifically, Kostenko admitted that on that day, approximately 271 patients arrived at Kostenko’s residence seeking oxycodone prescriptions. Kostenko additionally admitted that his staff collected over $20,000 cash from the patients that he later deposited in a local bank in amounts of less than $10,000. Kostenko further admitted that on that day he wrote over 370 oxycodone prescriptions totaling 22,255 pain pills. Moreover, Kostenko admitted that he wrote these prescriptions from his upstairs bedroom, without seeing any of the patients, and that his staff handed out the prescriptions. Finally, Kostenko admitted that by writing the oxycodone prescriptions, he acted beyond the bounds of professional medical practice.
“West Virginia is at the epicenter of a drug crisis that is ravaging our state and has left us with the highest overdose rate in the nation. Doctors are entrusted with prescribing authority in order to heal and protect patients, not betray that trust by contributing to prescription drug addiction,” stated United States Attorney Carol Casto. “My office will continue working with law enforcement to aggressively investigate and prosecute doctors who illegally prescribe the pain pills that have devastated our communities.”
Kostenko faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million when he is sentenced on August 23, 2017.
The investigation of Kostenko and his Coal Country Clinic was led by the West Virginia State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Irene C. Berger.
This case was brought 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 and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District.
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