W.Va. doctor found guilty in federal trial of illegally distributing painkillers
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A West Virginia doctor was found guilty Monday of unlawfully distributing opioids to his patients, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The verdict against Ricky L. Houdersheldt, 68, an osteopath from Hurricane, came after a six-day federal jury trial.
Houdersheldt was found guilty of 17 counts of distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
According to the release, Houdersheldt prescribed an array of painkillers, including hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl, to three patients “which were outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”
Investigators say Houdersheldt met one of the patients in parking lots, rather than in a medical office, to supply her with drugs and try to initiate an intimate relationship.
According to the release, Houdersheldt prescribed more than seven times the dosage of opiates recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, including a dangerous combination of morphine and fentanyl.
“Many patients became addicted to the drugs as a result of Houdersheldt’s criminal conduct,” according to the release.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 23 before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers of the Southern District of West Virginia, who presided over the trial.
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