Thursday, December 21, 2017

Area Doctor Indicted For Operating A “Pill Mill” And Causing The Death Of Five Patients

An area doctor that practices in Northumberland County and formerly Schuylkill was indicted Thursday for operating a pill mill.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Thursday that Dr. Raymond Kraynak, 60, of Mt. Carmel, was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 20, 2017, in a 19-count indictment charging the unlawful distribution and dispensing of controlled substances, causing the death of five patients by the unlawful distribution and dispensing of controlled substances, and maintaining two drug-involved premises in Mt. Carmel and Shamokin, Pennsylvania. 

Kraynak also operated an office in Ashland many years ago.

Dr. Kraynak was taken into custody Thursday by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Schwab for his initial appearance. He was temporarily detained until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning when he will appear for a bail hearing before Magistrate Judge Schwab. No date for trial was set.

According to a press release from United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Kraynak, who operated two offices in Mt. Carmel and Shamokin, known as Keystone Family Medicine Associates, prescribed approximately 2.7 million units of oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxycontin and fentanyl to approximately 2,838 patients between January 2016 through July 31, 2017. During that time period, he was the top prescriber of those drugs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The indictment further alleges that on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2016 that Dr. Kraynak prescribed these opioids to multiple patients outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, including prescribing the opioids without conducting a proper medical examination, inadequately verifying the patient’s medical complaint, and failing to assess the risk of abuse by individual patients.

The indictment further alleges that Dr. Kraynak caused the death of five of his patients between 2013 and 2015 by unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances to them that ultimately led to their death. Dr. Kraynak is also charged in two additional counts with maintaining drug-involved premises at his offices located in Mt. Carmel and Shamokin, Pennsylvania, and the government is seeking the forfeiture of those two offices, his Pennsylvania medical license and $500,000.
"One American dies of a drug overdose every nine minutes, and millions of Americans are living with an addiction to opioids," Attorney General Sessions said. "This is the deadliest drug crisis in our history, and it's unconscionable that some doctors and medical professionals would violate their oaths to exploit it for cash. The Trump administration will not tolerate fraud of any kind. That's why earlier this year, this Department conducted the largest health care fraud takedown in American history, arresting more than 120 defendants on opioid-related charges. We will remain relentless and will take this fight to street dealers, corrupt doctors, and the companies that have helped fuel this devastating crisis. I believe we will ultimately turn the tide of this historically devastating epidemic."

“These serious charges are the culmination of a substantial commitment of Federal, State and Local law enforcement resources specifically directed at one of the root causes of our current epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse: unlawful over-prescription of highly addictive and dangerous drugs,” said United States Attorney Freed. “The sheer number of pills prescribed in this case is staggering. Death or serious injury was the inevitable result of this defendant’s conduct. I am particularly thankful to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Mt. Carmel Borough Police and the Schuylkill County Drug Task Force for their hard work in this case.”

“The allegations against Dr. Kraynak in this indictment are deeply disturbing, especially given that he is accused of causing the death of five of his patients through the unlawful distribution of controlled substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone,” said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division. “At the height of the most devastating drug epidemic in our nation’s history that has claimed tens of thousands of lives across the country, the DEA, working with our partners such as, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania State Police, will aggressively work to identify, investigate, and prosecute rogue doctors that are responsible for contributing to this epidemic through their alleged criminal activity.”

“My office will relentlessly pursue medical professionals who divert prescription drugs from their intended purpose, especially when that diversion results in death,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Thanks to law enforcement collaboration and the strong work of U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, this doctor, who prescribed 2.7 million opioids to fewer than 3,000 patients over 18 months, will be prosecuted. I’m proud that our office partnered with U.S. Attorney Freed and his office to pursue charges in this case and put an end to this doctor’s crimes.”

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Mt. Carmel Borough Police Department and the Schuylkill County Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys William Behe and Fran Sempa are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Kraynak faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years’ imprisonment up to life on each of the five counts where patients are alleged to have died as a result of taking the controlled substances Kraynak prescribed them. Kraynak faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the 12 counts alleging that he prescribed controlled substances to specific patients outside of the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Each of the two counts charging Kraynak with maintaining drug involved premises is punishable as well by up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.