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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Beckley area physician sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for oxycodone crime

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A Beckley area physician was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison and ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 for a drug crime, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Dr. Michael Kostenko, D.O., 61, of Daniels, previously pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone not for legitimate medical purposes and beyond the bounds of medical practice. Kostenko entered his guilty plea in April after a day-and-a-half of jury trial in federal court in Beckley on a 22-count indictment. The trial ended with Kostenko’s guilty plea, and the crime he pleaded to is 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.

“This case should send a clear message to drug dealers that we will pursue them regardless of their education and status in the community. As a physician, Dr. Kostenko held a position of trust in the community. Instead of honoring his oath to do no harm, he contributed to the greatest public health crisis of our generation – opioid abuse. Sixteen patients died from overdoses on his watch, but clearly not under his care,” said United States Attorney Carol Casto. “Drug dealers should be aware that we are committed to using every tool in our arsenal to battle the opioid crisis, and the prosecution of health care providers who contribute to the problem will no longer be the exception, but the norm.”

“The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is pleased with the success of the United States Attorney’s Office in holding Michael Kostenko responsible for his actions,” said DHHR Secretary Bill J. Crouch. “Employees of the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification worked diligently to close the illegal pain clinic operated by Kostenko, and today’s result brings those efforts full circle.”

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, the Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services, and West Virginia DHHR’s Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger imposed the sentence.

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.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Updated August 23, 2017